Households have been informed that a public inquiry, set to be held next month into the planning saga between Barnet FC and Harrow Council, has been scrapped.

The authority withdrew an enforcement notice on the club’s ground The Hive in Camrose Avenue in April, with insiders telling getwestlondon that the newly-installed interim planning chief was concerned legal fees could cost taxpayers up to £500,000 if this summer’s public hearing dragged on.

Councillors and neighbours have lobbied the authority to take action over a higher-than-allowed stand and unauthorised floodlights, leading the committee to refuse a retrospective planning application in August last year.

'The apocalypse never happened': Barnet football club welcome Harrow Council standing down in planning saga

An independent planning inspector has now been appointed who will oversee the investigation, now taking place through written submissions instead of the three-day hearing which was previously pencilled in.

Independent Labour's Councillor Will Stoodley, who has chaired planning meetings at the council since last year, said: "Ultimately, this means it is over from a political standpoint.

Independent Labour's Councillor Will Stoodley
 

"I can't influence it, [Labour councillor] Sachin Shah can't, it is down to a planning inspector who is totally independent. Essentially, he is God when it comes to the Hive.

"People will not be able to show up at a inquiry anymore, but what it does mean is that people are able to write to the inspector, with their objections or support, whether they are concerned about the glare from the floodlights, or they use the gym at the ground and do not want to walk to their car in the dark."

Both Harrow Council and Barnet FC will write to the planning inspector, outlining their position, and it is understood the authority will seek to strike some kind of a compromise with club chairman Tony Kleanthous over when the flood lights, which have been a bone of contention for neighbours of the ground, will be left on.

Before withdrawing the enforcement notice, the council consulted two lawyers, each costing £3,000 a piece.

Barnet FC sees enforcement notice for The Hive withdrawn by Harrow Council

Last month, Mr Kleanthous, reacting to the removal of the planning enforcement notice, said: "The apocalypse that everyone was predicting following the relocation of the club hasn’t happened and the support of The Hive from the local community has been absolutely tremendous.

"We are proud to work with our neighbours and we will continue to do so in order to improve the operation of this world class facility.

"Let’s hope we can now move forward together to maximise the positive benefits we bring to the local area."

More to follow.