BARNET FC is no longer being required to demolish a higher-than-allowed stand and unauthorised floodlights at its home ground in Edgware - leaving local residents “betrayed”, an opposition councillor has said.

Conservative-run Harrow Council withdrew an enforcement notice on the club’s ground The Hive in Camrose Avenue this morning citing the potential estimated £300,000 legal fees bill it could run up if this summer’s public hearing dragged on.

The notice had been slapped on the club in September after the council’s planning committee refused retrospective planning permission in August 2013.

The club appealed both the refusal of permission and the enforcement notice and a public inquiry into the matter is scheduled to be held between June 10 and 12 at Harrow Civic Centre in Station Road, Harrow.

The Hive Stadium
 
Councillor Susan Hall, the Conservative leader of Harrow Council

Council leader Councillor Susan Hall (Conservative) said: “In the light of the legal advice we received in relation to the enforcement notice, it would have just been reckless to press on with a court action we wouldn’t win and I am not prepared to waste taxpayers’ money.

“The council’s objections to this scheme were driven all along by quite understandable concerns by local people, and it was our duty to stand up for them and for the fact that we do not condone unauthorised developments.

“We still have an opportunity to support residents concerns as a planning appeal against the council’s refusal of planning permission has recently been made. 

“Harrow Council will use the forthcoming planning appeal to seek proper controls over the development, including the floodlights.

“The council is hoping that this can be held in public so that local people will be able to have their say and also hear the evidence put forward by the lighting experts.

“The council has always wanted The Hive to be a success, but there has got to be a trade off with tackling the anxieties of those who live near the ground.”

The Hive Football Centre in Camrose Avenue, Edgware
            

A special planning committee meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday specifically to address the issue of The Hive although the background papers and agenda have not yet been published despite it being less than a week away.

Queensbury ward councillor Sachin Shah (Labour) said: “This decision by Tory run Harrow council is a betrayal of the people of Harrow.

“The decision was apparently based on ‘legal advice’. However, that advice was not shared with planning committee members last night nor have ward councillors seen it.

“I have serious concerns at the way this Tory-run council is making decisions behind closed doors. The Harrow council taxpayers deserve better than this.

“Today I am calling for the Tory council to: publish in full the legal advice provided to them; publish in full all e-mails and letters sent between council officers and representatives of The Hive; publish in full all e-mails and letters sent between the chairman of the planning committee and representatives of The Hive since the application was refused in September; and publish in full all emails and letters sent between the cabinet member responsible for planning and representatives of The Hive since the application was refused in September.”

Barnet FC built The Hive Football Centre at the former Prince Edward Playing Fields based on planning permission granted in 2008 but the 2,634-capacity west stand was constructed 5.5m higher and 4.2m deeper than the specifications allowed and the four corner floodlights measured 27.8m rather than the agreed 15.7m.

Only afterwards did the club seek and was refused retrospective planning permission to legitimise the new dimensions on the grounds that: “In the absence of sufficient details and calculations in relation to the potential impacts of the floodlights on the amenities of neighbouring residential properties, the local planning authority is unable to conclude that the proposals would not result in significant harm to the amenities of neighbours by virtue of unacceptable lighting levels within and adjacent to residential properties surrounding or near to the site.”

Consequently the council issued the now-withdrawn enforcement notice demanding the stand be demolished within six months and the lights in three, or face prosecution.

Read more about The Hive:

Hive in running for top architectural award

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