AN AMBITIOUS project to create a sports and community hub in the Yorkshire Dales is a step nearer its goal after receiving its latest grant.

It is hoped the scheme to create a £650,000 centre for Wensleydale Rugby Club, in Leyburn, will see more senior and junior members join its ranks, along with volunteers and coaches and provide a space for community groups when not used for rugby.

Phase one of the project involved creating new changing rooms and showers, improving the main clubroom and bar and installing a new kitchen. The rugby club received £20,000 from Richmondshire District Council for this stage.

Now the club has been awarded £46,700 for the second phase of work, which will see the clubroom space extended and a new entrance with male, female and disabled toilet facilities and an office.

The club will promote the building as a wedding and party venue, as well as a centre for meetings and conferences, sporting events, social groups, theatre or live music performances and a caravan and camping venue. Schools will also be invited to use the facility for multi-schools events.

Chris Taylor from the rugby club said: “We are delighted to receive continued support from Richmondshire District Council.

"The award enables us to start work on phase two later this year and once the development is complete we will have first class facilities for our members and the wider community.”

Richmondshire’s award has come from its £270,000 Social Fund which aims to support community projects taking place within one of the district's five growth areas – Colburn, Hipswell, Leyburn, Richmond and Scotton.

“This grant scheme is helping communities that we want to see grow,” said council leader, Councillor Yvonne Peacock.

“We are able to help a wide variety of schemes. So far cash has gone to two projects – Richmond School received an offer of £50,000 to support the implementation of a 3G Artificial Sports Pitch and Scotton Parish Council received £10,500 to make improvements to the footpaths to allow better access to local facilities.

“The rugby club has been ambitious in its aim to improve sports facilities for the community – but it is almost there, having raised a huge amount of money already. It is very exciting to see it come to fruition.”