Plans to build a new sports stadium in Newbury are due to take a big step forward this month.

The Conservative-run council wants to construct a floodlight stadium with an artificial grass pitch, changing rooms and a function room, at Newbury Rugby Club and open it by the end of March 2022.

A lease agreement for the site will be drawn up by the council’s executive, if the move is signed off at a meeting on April 29.

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The council has not revealed how much it will pay the rugby club to use the land or a budget for the controversial project yet.

The new stadium to replace Newbury Football Club’s Faraday Road ground, after it was closed in 2018 to make way for the London Road Industrial Estate redevelopment.

In a report, the council admits there are “notable risks” to the schedule for the project, as it needs to finalise the lease agreement, secure planning permission and build the stadium in less than 11 months.

During a recent consultation on the new stadium, 349 people responded and 53 per cent said they supported the project.

The former Newbury FC ground in Faraday Road

The former Newbury FC ground in Faraday Road

Many people said the council should be “more ambitious” and build a ground that can be expanded and upgraded if a non-league football team that plays there gets promoted to higher leagues.

The council has agreed to build a Step 6 facility that could be upgraded to a Step 4 facility, so Southern Football League matches can be played there.

The Tories who run the council have resisted calls to scrap the project and reopen the Faraday Road ground in Newbury.

The council plans to spend £191,000 on converting that ground into a public space that can be used until the land is needed for the London Road Industrial Estate redevelopment, and says the old clubhouse, toilets and part of the spectator stand must be demolished first.

A group of volunteers, known as Newbury Community Football Group, claim they can reopen the ground to footballers and run it until February 2022, in a move that will cost the council just £27,000.

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But the council says “it is not appropriate” for anyone to play at the ground until the “potentially dangerous” clubhouse and other structures have been demolished and it would cost £200,000 to repair them.

In December, the council agreed to press ahead with the redevelopment of London Road Industrial Estate, which has been in the pipeline since 2003.