19 May, 13:05
And now the English champions have been given the go-ahead by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. The club expect Barnet Council to formally issue them with planning permission in the next few days after their plans were approved by Eric Pickles MP.
"We are obviously delighted that the Secretary of State has confirmed that our planning application can be determined at local level, in line with the spirit of localism. We now hope that the formal decision will be issued by Barnet Council over the coming days," said Saracens chairman Nigel Wray.
"The comprehensive sporting and community benefits of our proposals have been recognised at every stage of the decision making process. We will create a vibrant sports hub for the local community, offering great facilities free of charge for local schools. We will also provide a hugely improved athletics venue for Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers and make a real home for Saracens."
Copthall Stadium has been home to two athletics clubs, Barnet & District AC and Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers, as well as non-league football club Kentish Town. The complex also provided London Crusaders with their home venue when they were in the second division of the rugby league in 1993 and 1994.
Saracens announced their plans to develop the site back in November, 2010. They are looking to redevelop the stadium into a modern facility with 3,000 permanent seats and demountable stands to take the capacity up to 10,000 for rugby matches, while still keeping the stadium's ability to host athletics events. The plans also include the use of an artificial pitch, the first in the professional game in England.
Saracens meet ASM Clermont Auvergne in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals at Vicarage Road, Watford, on Sunday, 8 April and this weekend will meet Harlequins in a top of the table clash in the English Premiership at Wembley Stadium with a crowd of more than 75,000.