CAMPAIGNERS breathed a sigh of relief last night after plans to sell the freehold for the former Hendon Football Club site were paused by Barnet Council.

A proposal to sell the freehold to Montclare Developments Ltd was called-in by Councillor Jack Cohen who suggested other uses for the land should be explored.

Campaigners have been fighting to save the 4.4 acres of land in Claremont Road for community use for around eight years.

On behalf of the group, campaign member Gordon Kerr put forward the case at the business management overview and scrutiny committee meeting.

Mr Kerr argued the council had no right to sell the land because of protective covenants. He said: “It remains owned on the trusts and covenants it agreed to be bound by in 1927, on a solemn and binding promise that it would remain football or community recreation open space in perpetuity.”

It was also revealed there were no plans to advertise the land to other potential buyers.

Cllr Cohen said: “We are not sure if there are other people who are interested in this or not and we’re not sure if Montclare is actually viable.

“I don’t think enough time and trouble has been spent on finding alternative uses for the land.”

The committee agreed the plans should be reconsidered to investigate different uses for the site, taking into account the demand for local community use and open spaces.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Kerr said: “We’re delighted that after eight years of seeing this project steam rolling through – which would appear to make no sense at all to any members of the community – that at least there’s a pause for breath.

“That land belongs to the community in trust.”

If the proposal does go ahead, the campaign group plans to refer it to the Serious Fraud Office.