AMBITIOUS multi-million pound plans to redevelop a Keighley sports stadium have suffered a setback.
Keighley Cougars have been told their scheme will not receive hoped-for funding from Sport England.
The £1.6m Strategic Facilities Fund cash would have paid for the first phase of redeveloping the rugby league club's Lawkholme ground, including the rebuilding of the main stand and the provision of a 3G pitch – a combination of grass and artificial turf that will enable it to be used more extensively without damage.
Club chairman Gary Fawcett said he was disappointed, but that the setback would not necessarily slow down the scheme.
"Bradford Council is extremely supportive of our plans but we would have to be written into the playing fields strategy to qualify for the Sport England funding and a 3G development at Wyke has priority," he said.
"It is a hiccup but we have not been deterred from pursuing our plans.
"We are applying for heritage lottery funding and there are lots of other pots of money around that we will hopefully be able to tap into.
"It may be that we have to scale down what we do and shuffle round the order of things, but I am optimistic that we will deliver the improvements we want to make."
Planners have already given the go-ahead to the first phase of the programme.
But the rebuilding of the stand and the installation of the new pitch may now be moved down the to-do list.
"We need more changing rooms and modernisation of the provision there so I would like to see that done first," said Mr Fawcett.
"The 3G pitch could follow and then perhaps redevelopment of the education facilities and then the stand."
Work on the scheme is scheduled to start at the end of this season, and would be carried out in phases over about five years.
The total cost would be about £5m.
The redevelopment of the main stand would see the wooden structure, which dates from the 1930s, stripped back to its original steel frame and reconstructed to a new design.
Capacity would be increased to provide covered seating for 870 and new terrace space to the front.
Plans have been drawn up by Saltaire-based Riverside Design Studio Architects, working closely with the rugby league club, construction professionals and the council.
The initiative has the support of the RFL, which has offered what practical help it can, and has been welcomed by Keighley MP Kris Hopkins and community leaders, who say it will provide a massive boost to the town.