Council says Barnet FC “has to be realistic” about stadium plans

Chairman Tony Kleanthous put out a statement on Monday announcing plans to end the club’s “ten-year exile” in Harrow reports David Floyd

A road sign with with 'Underhill' on it in London Borough of Barnet
Barnet FC hope to build a new stadium near their former Underhill base – (Credit – David Floyd)

Barnet Council has said that Barnet FC’s new plans to return to the borough are “highly unlikely to be acceptable” due to the fact that they involve development on greenbelt land.  

In a statement on Monday, the club’s chairman Tony Kleanthous announced plans for a new stadium close to the site of the its former Underhill base in High Barnet.

The club played at Underhill until 2013 but left after plans to build a new stadium nearby were repeatedly rejected by Barnet Council – having also failed in a bid to move to the Copthall stadium, now the Stone X Stadium occupied by Saracens rugby club. It has since been based at The Hive stadium in Canons Park in the London Borough of Harrow. 

In his statement, Kleanthous said: “Our initial three-year tenure at The Hive was extended indefinitely by Harrow Council but I always felt that if it were possible, then Barnet FC should return to the home from where it took its identity.”

Explaining the plans for the new stadium he added: “After months of searching, it became clear that the best site was the one we originally identified at South Underhill and so we asked our architect to revisit these proposals. 

“This new scheme is a redesigned slimmed down version of our original planning application at the South Underhill site and accounts for the existing layouts and usages in place with the new school and their needs at the forefront of the project.”

Barnet Council expressed support for the principle of the club returning to the borough, it said the current plans were unlikely to get the go ahead. 

A spokesperson told Barnet Post: “We’re working to put Barnet on the capital’s sporting map and are home to Saracens rugby club and The 108, Europe’s first indoor baseball park. While it would be good to welcome Barnet FC back to their home borough, the club has to be realistic about the planning challenges for situating a stadium.

“To date, we have been unable to move forward as they are yet to propose an acceptable site. In our effort to find them a home in Barnet several sites have been looked at but were considered to be unsuitable. The Underhill location is highly unlikely to be acceptable because it is on greenbelt land.” 

“Justifying any development in the greenbelt would require a ‘very special circumstances’ case to be made, which demonstrates that the benefits of development outweigh the detriment, and it is very hard to see how this case could be achieved. In addition, a stadium on the Underhill site will cause additional pressure on local roads and highways. However, our doors are always open to examine other options.”

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