A MIRFIELD textile firm plans to extend on to playing fields used by hundreds of youngsters.
John Cotton (Mirfield) Ltd has written to Kirklees Council leader Clr Kath Pinnock setting out proposals to build a 150,000sq ft warehouse alongside its existing 350,000sq ft Nunbrook Mills factory at Huddersfield Road.
The firm, which makes bedding, said the expansion would create 50 jobs and help safeguard an existing workforce of 550.
But the development would swallow up the neighbouring West Mills playing fields - where Battyeford Sporting Club recently won planning permission to build new changing rooms.
The club has almost 400 players on its books, starting at seven, who use the football fields.
Clr Pinnock said the proposals focused on two council priorities - to support the local economy and jobs and to preserve playing fields and open space.
She said: "Whether we can find a way to satisfy these two priorities in this particular case is the central issue."
Clr Pinnock stressed that John Cotton had not submitted a formal planning application.
She said council officers would consult Mirfield residents widely before taking a view on the proposals.
She said John Cotton regarded the playing fields as the only feasible site for expansion.
"Clearly, the company is under increasing national and international competition," she said.
"It is an important local employer and not only wants to protect the jobs of its workforce but to create new jobs.
"On the other hand, the playing fields are widely used and long-established."
The playing fields comprise three full-size pitches and five mini-soccer pitches.
Mirfield Tory councillor Martyn Bolt said Kirklees Council faced a dilemma.
He said: "If Kirklees wants to sell the playing fields to John Cotton it would have to provide replacement facilities in the area.
"There is a need to maintain local jobs and John Cotton has ruled out relocating. The company wants to stay on its current site."
But Clr Bolt said the sporting club had spent a lot of time and money pursuing planning permission for changing rooms and wanted to base their operations at the playing fields.
Doug Windle, an official of the sporting club, said John Cotton's proposals would be discussed at a meeting of its executive on Sunday.
But he said the club had received planning permission for a club house and changing rooms and was continuing to develop its plans.
It is also seeking a £450,000 grant from the Football Foundation.
Mr Windle said: "The site has been in desperate need of changing rooms for many years.
"Proper facilities are becoming more crucial, particularly now we are getting more and more girls playing football."
Mr Mark Cotton, the firm's commercial and purchasing director, said it was very early days.
He said: "We want to anchor our operations in Mirfield.
"We have been here on the same site since 1916 and we want to safeguard the future of our employees".