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Harrow Council approves Barnet FC's move to borough despite objections
Harrow Council approved plans for Barnet FC to play its home matches in the borough at a meeting last night, despite pleas from local residents.
In a packed meeting at the Civic Centre, the council’s cabinet heard objections from two residents’ associations, Wealdstone FC Supporters Club and Conservative councillors to Barnet FC’s proposal to play its matches at The Hive Football Centre in Prince Edward Playing Fields from August next year.
The council promised to set up a scrutiny body made of representatives from the club, council and community to monitor the impact of the move and address concerns, but said the plan had too many benefits to turn down.
Barnet FC must now complete the 5,176-seater stadium and fulfil the existing planning conditions on the land, and have been given an initial ten-year lease to play games at the centre – the minimum requirement by the Football League.
But homeowners in the area showed their anger at last night’s meeting, after labelling the council’s consultation “a total farce” amidst concerns over parking chaos on match days and the introduction of a controlled parking zone (CPZ).
Anne Morant, chairman of the Canons Park Residents’ Association, said: “I’m absolutely disgusted. Local residents have been completely railroaded.
“We will not be able to get out of our homes because of the parking, and they are trying to force a CPZ on people who do not want one and have always said they do not want one.”
Others questioned what had changed since The Hive was given planning the go-ahead in 2006, when residents were assured when The Hive – currently the club’s training ground – would not be home to league football matches.
But Councillor Keith Ferry, portfolio holder for planning, said “much had changed since 2006” and that the club’s request to amend the lease was a “reasonable request” given their dispute with Barnet Council.
He said: “I’m convinced that the agreement of this request will be a good thing for Harrow in the long term.
“I do not accept that there has been an absolute lack of consultation, we went out of our way to spend hours at drop-in sessions talking to people.”
Cllr Ferry also said the club would pay the costs of widening of Camrose Avenue and for any CPZ, and made an offer to meet with fans of Wealdstone FC to help them find a new home for the club in the borough.
In 2004, Wealdstone FC began work on a new stadium on the 44-acre site, but their project collapsed when external financial backers stepped away from the project a year later.
The half-built stadium fell into disrepair and the site remained derelict and unused until Barnet FC intervened and proposed a training centre, youth academy, and football facilities which would be open to the public.
Wealdstone FC Supporters Club president Nick DuGard told the Harrow Times : “I think it’s a great offer and it’s important that our fans understand where Harrow Council is coming from.”
The Harrow Times was given exclusive access by Barnet FC to The Hive earlier this week, which is in the final stages of a £4million redevelopment with a new gym, bar, changing facilities and offices set for completion next week.
The gym and pitches – both natural grass and artificial – will be open to the community to use alongside the team’s players and staff.