Barnet Football Club is preparing a planning application for a possible return to Barnet on a site close by its former stadium at Underhill.


If Barnet Council could be persuaded to agree – and this seems "highly unlikely" – the club would build a new stadium on playing fields immediately to the south of Ark Pioneer Academy, the new school built on the site of the club’s original ground.

Since moving to The Hive, in Harrow, in 2013, the Barnet FC chairman Tony Kleanthous says he always hoped it might be possible to re-establish the club in Barnet.

He has identified what he believes is the best location for a new stadium – just south of the previous ground -- and says he is ready to fund the full cost of construction.

While the council would like to welcome the club back to Barnet, a new stadium at Underhill would be "highly unlikely" to be approved as the site is in the Green Belt. Planning permission would only be granted if there was an overwhelming case in its favour.

For his part, Mr Kleanthous is appealing directly to Barnet FC fans and local residents to give their full support so that “our incredible club can end its ten-year exile in Harrow and return to where it belongs”.

"Ultimately, it will be down to our supporters to convince Barnet Council that the club should be back in its spiritual home."

An illustration of the layout – see above – shows the proposed new stadium would be sited on the Underhill playing field, between the Ark Pioneer Academy and the King George V playing fields and would front on to Barnet Lane.

An artist’s impression of the new stadium – which would have a 6,000 to 8,000 capacity -- shows the position of the new stands for spectators. A car park would be situated between the club building and Barnet Lane.

Mr Kleanthous says the proposed new stadium would be a “slimmed down version” of the club’s original plan to redevelop this same site at south Underhill – an application that failed to get approval and which precipitated Barnet FC’s move to The Hive a decade ago.

In recent months Mr Kleanthous and his architect have revisited the previous plans and as he believes this is still the best site, he has instructed the WSP Planning Consultancy to begin the pre-application process and prepare a planning application.

Sean McGrath from WSP will head the project and engage directly with Barnet Council and the council’s planning officers.

News of a possible return of Barnet FC – and the ambition to site a new stadium close to its previous ground – has surprised the local community after long-running disagreements between Mr Kleanthous and Barnet Council.

A great deal has happened since Barnet FC abandoned Underhill stadium because of its limited capacity of 4,000 spectators and its failure to secure approval for redevelopment.

Robin Bishop, who is the Barnet Society’s lead on planning and the environment, said a lot more information would be needed about siting a new football stadium in an area where there was already considerable concern about the loss of Green Belt land.

A new stadium in that location would have an impact on the Ark Pioneer Academy and raise questions about the proposed move of the Rainbow Community Centre to The Pavilion, which adjoins the school.

Other developments were also planned in the area – a children’s playground, and community leisure and cafe hub.

“Many of our members would like to see the return of the Bees to their home turf, but there is local concern about more development in the area and the loss of biodiversity.

“We would welcome early engagement with the local community, and some joined up thinking by Barnet Council about the Barnet FC proposals and other local issues.”

In announcing his plan to return to Barnet, Mr Kleanthous describes the effort he has made to “bring the club home to the town from where it took its identity”.

He has busied himself in recent months talking to Barnet Council and asking for their support in locating a suitable site.

“This new scheme is a redesigned slimmed down version of our original 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.

“Along with the smaller 6,000 to 8,000 capacity stadium, there are two multi use games areas, a circulation and recreational zone for pupils, a formal pitch for training and playing purposes on Barnet playing fields, and a school drop-off zone for pupils which will help alleviate the morning rush hour traffic problems in the area.”