AFC Wimbledon have been given the green light to start building their new £25 million stadium at Plough Lane.
The Dons received permission from Merton Council to begin construction work as the club moved a crucial step closer to a return to its ‘spiritual home’.
The club want to start building the 11,000-20,000 seater ground next summer and are looking to start the 2019-20 season at the new ground.
Representatives from AFC Wimbledon, Merton Council and GRA Acquisitions have signed the Section 106 agreement that clears the way for the new stadium.
The new development at Plough Lane will bring to the borough an 11,000- 20,000-seater football stadium, 602 much-needed new homes, retail space and a squash and fitness club.
Signing the Section 106 agreement, AFC Wimbledon and GRA Acquisitions Limited are committing to not only bringing a major new development and the associated economic benefits to this area of south west London.
They will also pump over £1.5 million into local health provision and improvements to the local bus, road and cycle network.
The development will bring construction jobs to the area as well as longer-term employment once the stadium, shops and fitness club are up and running.
AFC Wimbledon Chief Executive Erik Samuelson said:
Everyone in football knows the story of how AFC Wimbledon came into being. A group of fans started with nothing; no ground, no team, no manager, no players and no kit.
Now, 15 years later, we’ve taken a giant step towards going home to Merton, in a new stadium and as a Football League club. This is a momentous day for us. Everybody who has helped the Club to reach this point must be very proud.
On a personal note I want to say a particular thank you to Andrew Williams, our project manager, and partner Daniel Norris of law firm Hogan Lovells, who did all the hard work in the background. I and the Club are massively indebted to them.
Dons first-team manager Neal Ardley recalled taking the first steps in his long football career over three decades ago at Plough Lane.
A lot of my early football memories are connected to Plough Lane and it is exciting news to hear that the club will finally be able to start work on building a new stadium back there. As a trainee, I remember having to paint the physio’s room at Plough Lane, training in the car park from the age of 11, and signing my first professional contract on the pitch. To lead the team out back at our spiritual home would be a huge privilege.