Barnet chairman asks council in stadium row: Who are you trying to punish?

Barnet Underhill

Bees chairman urges council to let common sense prevail.

Barnet FC chairman Tony Kleanthous has urged Harrow Council not to heap misery on residents living around the Hive following their decision to issue the club with an enforcement notice over its stadium.

The Council’s new cabinet member for planning Councillor Stephen Greek has issued the notice stating the club must demolish the West Stand and the remove the floodlights at their ground on Camrose Avenue.

He claimed the council are within their rights to ask the club to remove the structure which he said is built outside of planning guidelines.

But Kleanthous believes that if the enforcement notice comes into effect it will only be to the detriment of local community.

“The real losers as a result of this decision will be the local residents who will be faced with more nuisance and problems as well as the users of the site who will be forced to pay the extra site costs,” Mr Kleanthous said.

“By enforcing this notice the council are only making it worse for the residents – 95% of whom we get along with.”

“There will be an inevitable rise in the cost of running the site,” he added.

“We recently did a price review for our 3G pitches which are used by the local community and we discovered we are 30% cheaper than any other pitch in the area - 30% cheaper than our competitors.

“How can we continue to offer local people affordable pitch hire if we are faced with the additional cost of making changes to both the height of the stand and the floodlights.”

“Our gym is also run on a not-for-profit basis and for the benefit of the community,” Mr Kleanthous continued. “We don’t even ask customers for contracts and have market-leading rates as low as £20 monthly. We have 600 local gym users - 90% of whom are on our doorstep.

“Unfortunately it is local users from the local community that are going to suffer - these are the people who will be the real victims of this enforcement notice.”

Mr Kleanthous said the club had been in constant touch with council planners throughout the construction phase of the stadium ahead of the move to Harrow in the summer.

And he took a swipe at what he says are a few local politicians who are trying to create ill-feeling towards the club to win votes.

“We have met regularly with the planners,” he said. “But they have been put under huge pressure by two or three local politicians who have whipped up a frenzy and seem to think it is a good idea to get rid of community facilities.

“Look we had a deadline to meet and we met it but we always do what is legal and proper.

“We accept we built before we knew what was going to happen with the permission but that was not because we wanted to. It was because the council took nine months dealing with something that should have taken three months.”

Mr Kleanthous insisted the club would be appeal the enforcement notice before it comes into effect in late October and he questioned the logic behind the council’s decision.

“We have done everything correctly and abided by the legal process,” he said. “We are appealing this decision but regardless of the outcome we still rightfully have the permission for planning for a stadium of this size.

“Should we lose we will take down the size of the roof even though the stand does not affect anyone. In fact, the only reason that the stand is even visible to some residents is because the trees near the train line have been removed which we ourselves advised against.

“If we reduce the height of the floodlights the only difference will be the light will shine into the first floor windows of some of the local residents.

“We think that is wrong. We would advise against that. We have a very good relationship with the majority of our residents and that is why we have put the floodlights at that height in order to protect their interests."

He added: “We obtained the planning for the floodlights at 15 metres but when we went to planning we didn’t realise the site sloped so much and because of that split-level we had to put the floodlights higher.

“At 15 metres the floodlights would be at bedroom height. That’s why we had to make them higher because when you put them higher and point them down you get less light spill.

“You don’t have to be a lighting expert to know that is better.”

Harrow Councillor Stephen Greek had earlier presented the local authority's stance: “If a developer fails to get planning permission for a structure, then it is only right and fair that we should ask them to remove it. 

“This is an important issue for many residents and it is vital that the council takes the necessary and appropriate action.”

image: © olivern5

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