12:51pm Thursday 12th July 2012
By David Hardiman
Barnet look set to be playing football in Harrow from next year after a council report recommended the switch to a Canons Park playing fields.
Harrow Council’s cabinet will make a decision next Thursday on whether to agree to the club’s request to play their home matches at The Hive Football Centre in the Prince Edward Playing Fields – currently the team’s training ground.
The club announced earlier this year it would play one more years at its Underhill Stadium in Barnet, its home of 105 years, but has been involved in a long-running dispute with Barnet Council over the lease on the land, which is coming to an end.
The lease of a neighbouring cricket club which provides fans with access to the southern side of the stadium expires in December, and without a lease supporters will be unable to access that part of the stadium.
Barnet Council denies responsibility for the club's decision to leave Underhill.
Speculation has been rife for years that the team wanted to move to the The Hive Football Centre, which is undergoing a £4million renovation, but it requires the permission of Harrow Council to do so for the beginning of the 2013/14 season.
Council officers have recommended that the club is given initial approval to play matches in the playing fields for ten years, until the end of the 2022/23 season, although there is a 125-year agreement between the council and club already in place to use the land for training purposes.
The council’s report says the economic benefits of bringing the club to the borough are wide-ranging – from giving the community access to the facilities to bringing match-day income to local businesses from fans who attend games.
But local residents’ groups have raised concerns about huge increases in traffic to the area, especially Camrose Avenue, insufficient parking spaces and the introduction of controlled match-day parking, litter and noise.
Council officers have recommended that if the move is approved, a scrutiny body made up of representatives from the club, council and community is set up to monitor the effect of football matches on the area.
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