Work on an eagerly-awaited artificial grass football pitch in Barnstaple is underway.

North Devon Council is building the Artificial Grass Pitch (AGP) at Tarka Tennis Centre. It will be only artificial pitch in North Devon and Torridge licensed for formal matches by the Football Association (FA).

The build is set to take 16 weeks to complete, and the pitch will be open in September.

North Devon Council leader, Councillor David Worden, said: "Our new FA-registered pitch will be an excellent facility for local teams to train and continue to play fixtures throughout the year, particularly at times when grass pitches become waterlogged.

"We're really pleased to start work and have already received lots of interest from clubs and groups who are looking forward to playing on the new pitch."

The pitch has been funded through successful bids to the Premier League, the FA Facilities Fund and Devon County Council. North Devon Council has also allocated S106 funding, which is paid to the council by developers as part of planning applications.

The full pitch space can be used for 11-a-side fixtures. It can be halved for nine-a-side fixtures and halved again for youth seven-a-side games and adult five or six-a-side matches.

The AGP's distance from the remaining grass pitch at Tarka Tennis Centre means matches can go ahead on both pitches at the same time, something that was not possible before.

The footpath running adjacent to the Devon County Council Recycling Centre to the Rock Park Iron Bridge is fenced off to allow it to be re-aligned around the perimeter of the new AGP.

Walkers and cyclists can use the path along the riverfront behind the Tarka Tennis Centre as an alternative route to Rock Park.

Groups or clubs interested in using the AGP when it opens in September can email to register their interest.