Ashington FC's move from Portland Park a step closer

A famous non-League football club's move from its traditional home of 100 years has come a step closer after planners gave the green light for a new ground.

A famous non-League football club's move from its traditional home of 100 years has come a step closer after planners gave the green light for a new ground.

Ashington FC has to re-locate because Portland Park - where it has played since 1907 - is to be demolished and re-developed as a £25m Asda superstore.

Now local councillors have approved the club's planning application to build a replacement ground at the town's Hirst Welfare complex.

The demise of Portland Park will trigger the re-development of the Lintonville area as part of a £60m town centre retail masterplan that could create up to 1,000 new jobs.

It includes the creation of 90,000sqft of retail space, new restaurants and cafes, a civic square for markets and fairs, parking space for 900 cars and 50 town centre residential properties.

Members of Wansbeck Council's planning committee were told that seven acres of disused playing fields at Hirst Welfare will be used to develop the new football club ground for Ashington FC, which plays in the Northern League first division.

The fenced ground will be developed to Northern League and Football Association requirements with two grandstands for 150 seated and standing supporters, a clubhouse and changing facilities and parking for 45 cars and two coaches.

Sport England has also now indicated its support for the scheme at Hirst Welfare, which is rapidly developing into a centre of footballing excellence in the town.

At the start of the last season Ashington FC's second string, Ashington Colliers, moved to the Hirst, where several junior and senior teams already play.

Yesterday Wansbeck councillor Alex Wallace said: "The Hirst Welfare is contributing enormously to the regeneration of east Ashington and having the new home ground for the town's football team there will be another major addition."

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