Plans for a new all-weather football pitch in Barnstaple have taken a major step forward.

North Devon Council’s executive committee met yesterday (Tuesday) to approve and allocate funds for a full-sized 3G artificial grass pitch behind Tarka Tennis Centre.

The project will cost £850,000 and will be managed as part of the new North Devon Leisure Centre contract.

The council has submitted an application for £550,000 to the Football Foundation.

Members approved using £122,000 from the sale of land at Rock Park, and almost £164,000 of public open space funds from the Westaway Plain and Clarendon Gardens Developments.

The pitch is a priority project in Barnstaple and the wider area, where there is an under-provision of training space and matchplay facilities capable of hosting games in winter weather.

When completed, it will be the only FA licensed artificial pitch in North Devon and Torridge, and will be capable of hosting competitive adult matches.

North Devon Council’s executive member for parks, leisure and culture, Councillor Dick Jones, said: “Agreeing to release these funds is an important step forward for this project and will send a clear message to the Football Foundation that we are committed to deliver the artificial grass pitch.

“My hopes are high for this funding bid – if we are successful, over half a million pounds of outside funding will be invested in this new facility, which will be a fantastic result for sport in North Devon and a big step forward in delivering the sporting needs of our local community.”

The benefit of an all-weather football pitch would be a boon for local clubs.

Adverse weather conditions throughout the winter have led to one of the worst seasons on record in the North Devon Football League for postponements and fixture backlog, with more than 450 postponements over the course of the year.

North Devon Football League secretary Mick Tattersall said a new 3G pitch would have a ‘massive impact’ on football in the area.

“Having a 3G pitch locally in North Devon is going to have a massive impact on football in general, not just for an open age league like ours,” he said.

“We’ve had over 450 fixtures postponed this season, predominantly because of pitch conditions caused by adverse weather.

“If we had had a 3G pitch available, we would have had a lot more games running through evenings and weekends in the winter - it will have a massive impact.”