CRICKET chiefs are backing plans for a £2.5m sports complex at a Mirfield school.
Officials at Yorkshire County Cricket Club have welcomed the proposals for Castle Hall School - arguing that there is a shortage of indoor winter practice facilities in the area.
The plans have also been welcomed by Sport England, the national body responsible for promoting sport.
The backing comes as the school unveiled computer-generated pictures showing what the complex would look like.
Now students, staff and governors hope the high-powered support will persuade Kirklees councillors to give the scheme the green light at a planning meeting on January 8.
Residents have opposed the proposals because the school wants to pay for its scheme by selling part of its grounds for housing.
Opponents said more housing would generate extra traffic at Towngate.
At present, the school's main hall and dining room serve as makeshift gyms.
The scheme calls for a purpose-built indoor sports hall, proper changing rooms, a fitness suite, a climbing wall, facilities for disabled people and classrooms for teaching theory of sport.
It also includes an all-weather pitch, although this would not be floodlit.
Howard Webster, chairman of governors, said the sports hall would help other areas of the school curriculum besides sport.
He said: "It will enable us to further develop our performing arts curriculum in school, because we will be able to expand our work in drama and, possibly, dance.
"At the moment, these classes are also being held in the main school hall.
"It's absurd that it has to double up for so many uses.
"Not only that, when exams are being sat in the hall it obviously can't be used for any other purpose."
Mr Howard said the sports hall would be a big bonus for Mirfield residents.
Local sports teams and fitness enthusiasts will be able to use the facilities for up to 70 hours a week in the evenings and at weekends.
The school aims to pay for the scheme by selling what it says is a "small portion of scrubland" for a development of 30 homes by Shipley-based Magellan Residential Ltd.
The school said the company had an excellent record of building sympathetic developments and had won awards from the Civic Trust and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
Mr Howard said: "It is vital we offer our students suitable sporting facilities in a first-rate and popular school where the number of pupils has clearly outgrown the sporting facilities we can, and should, offer.
"But it's also important to remember that this plan will benefit not just our students, but everyone in Mirfield."