Southam United Football Club have finally been given permission to build a new and bigger stadium - almost 20 years after first mooting the idea.
Stratford District councillors have approved the club’s plans, which will see the current stadium and bowling club off Banbury Road knocked down and replaced with new pitches and facilities - including a hub building, floodlighting and new bowls club, as well as 236 new homes built by Bloor Homes.
The new homes will form part of the district council’s Core Strategy, which proposes to build 10,800 homes across the district by 2031.
Southam United FC’s chairman Charles Hill said: “We’re very pleased. A lot of effort has gone in to get this to planning committee stage. The first thoughts of doing something run back as far as 1995.
“The facilities are antiquated, cramped, difficult to operate and expensive to maintain.
“For a long time, I have been searching for a solution that would be suitable from a sporting perspective and give the town some of the new housing it needs.”
Although the club has faced some difficulties in progressing with its plans due to the proposed HS2 route running through the site, Mr Hill said that, after revising its plans, both parties are happy with the current project - which has also gained the backing of Southam Town Council.
He said: “We have consulted with everybody we could have possibly thought of consulting with.
“Southam United will have a modern stadium which will be easily adaptable for further development. We will have additional pitches to accommodate our ever-growing range of junior teams and the facilities to support that - proper parking provision, for instance.”
Mr Hill also pointed out that the bowls club, currently a tenant of Southam United’s, does not have its own pavilion, nor a full-sized bowling green. He said: “With the new site, they will be able to host a higher level of competition and play during the winter as well.”
In its application, the club had stated that its plans would “allow the football club to progress to a suitable level in the leagues”.
The town council had welcomed the proposal but also highlighted some concerns about the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and motorists around the site and asked that no convenience stores be allowed on the site to help protect the town centre shops.
Work is expected to start on the development next year. While the football club is hoping to be able to start using the new facilities from the 2016-17 season, the bowls club will likely be able to start playing indoor bowls by winter 2016-17 and outdoor bowls by summer 2017.