A FOOTBALL club that has called Barton home for more than 25 years may never return to the area after the facilities on the new estate are built.

Donald Light, chairman of Oxford's third biggest club, Headington Amateurs, says he has no idea if they will be able to play in Barton Park's new sports complex due to complications over ground requirements.

It comes as the controversial plans were unanimously given the go ahead by Oxford city councillors.

The scheme will feature a new turf sports pitch, multi-use games area and all-weather and floodlit pitch aimed at serving people from both existing Barton and Barton Park.

One of the requirements to play at the Hellenic League standard, for which Headington Amateurs currently has special dispensation at its current ground, is a stand with seating for 100 people.

A document by the Barton LLP in 2013 said there would have enough space to be able to "upgrade to Hellenic League standards" yet this was not included in the most recent designs for the ground, which will become home to more than 10 senior and junior teams.

Both Headington Amateurs and Barton United, who will say goodbye to the Barton Recreation Ground at the end of April, raised concerns about the plans for the new facilities prior to the council meeting.

Mr Light, of North Way, said it was a possibility Headington Amateurs may never return to Barton once they leave for 18 months while construction work begins.

He added: "I do not know if it will be feasible to go back unless we drop down a league, which is something we do not want to do.

"Nothing has been firmed up as to where we will be playing next year, but the council is helping us to try and find a ground.

"As the plans have been passed and the pitch won't be fenced off, it's a possibility we might not come back. Of course we will have to see what it will look like because we were hoping to go back.

"We have been in partnership with Barton United for 15 years and there's a huge social side to it. We also get about 75 per cent of first team players from the youth team from Barton United and a lot are born in the area."

The sports facilities are part of a wider 885-house development on land east of Barton. Housebuilders Hill Ltd will lay the bricks for the first 237 homes in June.

Ian Brooke, head of community services, said: "The city council’s priority is to invest in community facilities that encourage people to lead active and healthy lifestyles and also provide young people with positive activities outside the school environment.

"We are actively working with Headington Amateurs to consider several options, including moving to Horspath in the short term, where we would be able to provide the same level of provision as their current facilities."

Barton councillor Mike Rowley urged developers to make changes to the site, such as fencing off the pitch, which may allow the club to play.

He added: "Amateurs may find it makes more sense for them to move permanently to Court Place Farm or Horspath Road, where they won't have to find the funds to meet the League's increasing demands.

"But that's their decision, and it shouldn't be made impossible for them to return to Barton.

"I'll therefore continue to press for the necessary, and quite minor, changes to what otherwise are excellent and exciting plans."