Redbridge Council has announced plans to spend £1.6million upgrading Ashton Playing Fields in Woodford Green.

The sports fields, currently the base for Woodford Green Athletics Club and Essex Ladies, is made up of a running track, a hockey pitch, a football pitch, gym and changing rooms.

Plans to rebuild the stadium on the council-owned site in Chigwell Road will enable the athletics club to host British Division 1 meets and allow the borough to host a football club in the Essex Senior Football League – Woodford Town Football Club.

Last year, the club announced plans to return to Woodford Green and be the first football team to play in the town since the original Woodford Town in 1993.

The plans for the site, which were granted planning permission in July, involve upgrading the pavilion to provide new changing rooms and first aid facilities, installing a seated grandstand for both football and athletics spectators, upgrading the pitch and offering new gym facilities and a multi-use club room.

“The development of Ashton Playing Fields will support our strategic goals by providing the borough with a facility for national level athletics and football,” the council said.

Vision, Redbridge Council’s leisure arm, will fund the cost of the gym equipment in the pavilion – estimated to be £100,000 – and continue to fund the running costs of Ashton Playing Fields.

“They will be expected to ensure that maximum use is made of the facilities and will be exploring a range of possibilities in the future, including maximising the use by residents of the new gym,” the council said.

“The new gym will be providing facilities in an area of the borough that has limited provision.”

Both the athletics club and the football club will have community outreach programmes to further the aims of Redbridge’s physical activity strategy, the council said.

Throughout the redevelopment, access to the Astroturf hockey pitch and the three grass football pitches will be available for hire, the council said.

The football club and athletics club will pay an annual rent with additional income anticipated from the new gym facilities and any shortfall between costs incurred and income received will be borne by Vision.

Redbridge Council’s cabinet will be asked to agree the business plan for the redevelopment at a meeting on Monday, November 25.

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