THE first phase of Saracens’ proposed takeover of Copthall Stadium has been completed with the granting of a 99-year lease for the site.

Last night councillors on the cabinet resources committee agreed to the lease for a peppercorn rent of £1-per-year, with the club to undertake repairs to what was described as a “crumbling” stadium.

The Premiership rugby side is seeking to turn the stadium into a 10,000-seater home venue for themselves, with an artificial pitch, new permanent and retractable stands and an indoor running track.

In the document it says the club may be allowed into the stadium to start works which do not require planning permission, which may anger opponents of the scheme.

There will also be a lease requirement for community use of the pitch and stadium of 30-hours per week, with facilities offered free to local schools.

Councillor Daniel Thomas, chairing the committee, said: “I welcome the development. In my opinion it will see the redevelopment of a crumbling stadium and bring a premier rugby team to the borough.”

However, environment cabinet member Councillor Brian Coleman asked to “reserve his position” suggesting he had reservations about parking issues flagged up by local residents on match days.

A question from Barnet resident John Dix about why the lease was so long was answered saying the club needed the secure tenure to raise loans to help create the £10m project.

Concerns over the club being able to change conditions placed on the covenant after 25 years were mitigated, said officers, by positive requirements for the 30 hours of community use.

The plans will come before Barnet Council’s planning committee for consideration this summer.