A new full-size artificial grass pitch for North Devon could be ready before the start of the next football season.

North Devon Council (NDC) agreed to allocate the last of the funding required to build a new 3G pitch at Barnstaple’s Tarka Tennis Centre at a meeting of its executive this morning (Monday).

The project will cost nearly £800,000 and is now fully funded after councillors agreed to use £48,000 of Section 106 funds paid to the council by developers. £445,000 has been awarded to the project by the Premier League and FA Facilities Fund, which adds to £286,000 already allocated by the council back in May.

Work on the new pitch, which will be the only FA licensed pitch in North Devon and Torridge capable of hosting adult matches, will begin once planning conditions have been signed off.

The pitch will allow competitive fixtures to take place throughout the year and will be a boon for local clubs, which had to postpone more than 450 games within the North Devon Football League over the 2017/18 season, predominantly due to adverse weather.

It will also be used by a wide range of youth and adult groups for training and match play, and by local schools for PE lessons.

There are also plans for walking football, a girls development centre, mental health sessions, local leagues, disability team training and matches and youth drop-in sessions.

NDC’s executive member for parks, leisure and culture, Councillor Dick Jones said: “We’ve been working really hard to deliver this project so it will be very satisfying to see construction start now that all the funding is in place.

“We’re delighted that our bid for funding from the Premier League and the FA Facilities Fund has been successful. This project has been identified by our clubs as a key priority within the Playing Pitch Strategy and I can’t wait to see young people and adults from North Devon enjoying their football on the new facility from next season.”

North Devon Council and Torridge District Council adopted a joint Playing Pitch Strategy in November 2017.

The document sets out how both councils will meet the current and future demand for sports pitches in the two districts.

The strategy was written in partnership with Sport England and the national governing bodies for Football, Rugby Union, Cricket, Hockey and Bowls and in consultation with local sports clubs.