Jul 19 2012 by David Baker, Harrow Observer
PROFESSIONAL league football matches look set to be played in Harrow next year, much to the dismay of neighbours who say it would bring ‘traffic to a grinding halt’.
If Harrow Council approves recommendations to allow Barnet FC to switch grounds at a cabinet meeting this evening (Thursday), the League Two side could be playing their home matches in the 2013/2014 season at the Prince Edward Playing Fields, in Camrose Avenue.
The club, which already runs The Hive Football Centre and training facilities on the site, hopes to move to the base permanently next year after it became clear they would be leaving Underhill Stadium, in Barnet, their home of 105 years.
Those against the plans say extra footfall and cars will clog up the already busy surrounding roads and that they were given assurances professional football would never be played there.
Shirley Sackwild, secretary of Canons Park Residents’ Association, said: “When the planning permission for the training facilities were put in place we were assured that no league matches would ever be played there.
“There are no direct trains coming here from Barnet, so if they drive it means extra traffic and greater issues with parking, and people don’t necessarily want CPZs or parking restrictions outside their homes.
“Even if they get the buses it means extra footfall, extra noise and litter and all the rest that comes with it.”
She also said that while they regularly meet with the football club and have had good relations with them up to now, the consultation over the latest issues was inadequate.
The council maintains the move would bring jobs and growth to the local economy and a report ahead of the meeting recommends the club is given initial approval to hold matches in the playing fields for ten years, until the end of the 2022/23 season.
Harrow Council’s portfolio holder for property and major contracts, and deputy leader, councillor Thaya Idaikkadar, said: “Football clubs are aware of their responsibility to the local community.
“They promote sport and good health, encourage local residents to become members and provide local preference schemes for tickets to attend games.
“They bring employment and training opportunities to the community and generate income from match days, which raises the profile of the borough.”