ACCRINGTON Stanley Community Trust could be given use of Higham Playing Fields for free for five years under the terms of a proposed 30-year lease.

The trust plans to invest £2million in the fields turning it into a community sports hub and council bosses say as ASCT is a charitable organisation, it is recommended that Higham Playing Fields is leased to them for £1,000 per year, with the first five years free due to the scale of investment.

An in-house council valuation found that market price for the leasehold of Higham Playing Fields with the special assumption that the site would be run as a community sports hub is £12,390 per year.

In a report to go before the council's cabinet on Thursday, deputy head of environmental services, Craig Haraben said: “This means the lease will be granted at an undervalue but this appears to be reasonable in view of the contribution that the development will make to promoting the social, economic and environmental well-being of the borough.

“The community sports hub can provide opportunities for co-location of both sporting and educational facilities for the borough.

"The council has priorities to improve educational provision and this facility can provide an opportunity for further education for the local residents.

“In turn, this can support a more skilful workforce in the area and help improve the community both socially and economically.

"Providing a range of community services and opportunities can also support the financial sustainability of the site, providing income both on an educational and sporting front.

“It will allow people from every background to access the sporting facilities, helping to improve attitudes to activity as well as providing a facility for football development.”

Final lease terms have yet to be agreed with ASCT.

More than 50 objections have been received by the council raising concerns about the proposed development of Higham Playing Fields.

In April, ASCT 's development on Higham Playing Fields in the town was approved by the national body responsible for playing fields.

Consent was given by Fields in Trust despite strong local opposition including a 2,500 signature online petition opposing the project.

The scheme, given planning permission in December, features a new multi-use community building, fencing and lighting, a 75 space car park, and the creation of 3G pitches.

These include a full size floodlit artificial football pitch, three renovated grass pitches, a new ECB approved artificial cricket wicket.

Cabinet members will consider the objections and vote on whether they agree in principle to lease Higham Playing Fields to ASCT.

Members will also vote whether to grant delegated powers to Mr Haraben to agree the detailed terms of the lease.