A RUGBY league club has submitted plans to build a new clubhouse to replace ageing facilities described by a local councillor as not fit for “farm animals”.

Westhoughton Lions wants purpose-built changing facilites and a main function room in a new single-storey building at its ground at The Den in Cunningham Road.

The club says the plan is paramount to its “future sustainability”, and chairman John Thompson says it will help them attract new players.

Cllr David Chadwick, for Westhoughton South, hailed the work the club does and said the plans would give the club “worthwhile accom-modation”.

Westhoughton Town Council unanimously agreed to recommend approval for the scheme. Mr Thompson said: “I think it will be great to attract new players and retain them. It is much needed really because what we have got now is not great and we struggle to attract players.

“We are very much open to a community-based place as this is about supporting the area. If other clubs or organ-isations want to use the new place we are more than open to accom-modating them.”

Cllr Chadwick said: “The club has existed for a number of years out of some old storage containers. The players have put up with conditions that you would not put a farm animal in, which are not a good environment for young children to get changed in.

“The Lions have been negotiating with the council for years to get this land utilised and have failed in the past. Here we are a number of years later and hopefully with the chance to get worthwhile accommodation for this club.”

The club will be funding the development although no firm price has been put on the venture.

Mr Thompson added: “This is part of our five-year plan, so we will definitely complete it in that time, if we get permission. We would like to start building in the next 12 to 18 months at the latest.”

The site of the new clubhouse is currently used for car parking.

As well as four changing rooms and a main room, the clubhouse will contain toilets, a kitchen, an office, a first aid room and a referee’s room.

The application will now go to Bolton Council planning officers.

Westhoughton Lions was formed in 1997 and runs one senior team and seven age-group sides. The club caters for players at under-18, under-15, under-12, under-11, under-9, under-8 and cubs level.