The LV County Championship Division Two side today exchanged contracts with development partners MCD Developments and are set to submit a planning application early in the new year.
If given the go-ahead, work could begin in late 2008. The ground in Chelmsford would continue to host cricket until 2010, with Essex then taking their home matches around the county.
The stadium development is scheduled to be completed in December 2010 and will be fully operational for the 2011 season.
Essex chief executive David East said: "We have been working very hard to get this deal concluded and are all delighted that we have the green light to go for a planning application next year.
"This is a fantastic opportunity for the club to reaffirm its commitment to central Chelmsford and build a stadium that the whole community can be proud of."
The proposal includes plans for residential, retail, hospitality and banqueting facilities and the building of a nearby multi-storey car park.