Governors are celebrating “a huge leap forward” for their plans to build a new secondary school in East Finchley.

Barnet Borough Council has agreed to handover the freehold of the former Herbert Wilmot Centre and Stanley Road playing fields to The Archer Academy.

The school has been working closely with Sport East Finchley campaigners to redevelop the former youth centre and redundant playing fields for a non-denominational free school and sports facilities for the public.

Chair of governors Avis Johns said: “It’s a huge leap forward and we’re really excited about the opportunity it gives our school and the community.

“For probably anything up to 20 years there has been a real shortage of school places in the area. The Archer Academy is an end to the awful nightmare so many families have had trying to find a good school.

“Stanley Road playing fields have been neglected for well over ten years and they’re a gem in the centre of East Finchley.  By redeveloping the area the community can get the school places it needs as well as the sport facilities.”

The plans will include all weather pitches providing space for games such as football and rugby, as well as running tracks and an indoor area for sports such as badminton and climbing.

Sport East Finchley (SEF) is delighted the plans are moving forward after their ten-year campaign to save the Stanley Road playing fields for sport and recreation use.

Roger Chapman, chair of SEF as well as a governor of the new school, said: “I think this is a great step forward for the campaign because we’re ensuring we’re getting sports facilities for the community and securing the future of the playing fields.

“The resources The Archer Academy bring to the table, combined with the support we have from groups such as the London Marathon Trust, will allow us to create a standard of sports and leisure facilities for community use that we could never have achieved alone."

The school will now work alongside Sport East Finchley to draw up detailed plans of the school and sports facilities before submitting a planning application to the council.

In the long term, the school hopes to teach younger pupils at the Stanley Road campus and its older year groups from its own hub in the Institute of Arts Centre in Beaumont Close.