BRADFORD (Park Avenue) owner Gareth Roberts is ready to step up plans for a community sports hub at Horsfall Stadium after he confirmed today that the club have agreed terms on a 30-year lease to take control of their ground from Bradford Council.

Installing a 3G pitch - suitable for rugby as well as football - is central to the new scheme, along with improved lighting, fencing, roadways, parking and some building work.

The proposals have been in the pipeline for months, but now the paperwork has been completed and the lease will be effective once it is approved by Bradford Council partner Fields in Trust, who have already indicated that it should be a formality.

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Roberts and The Horsfall Community Trust, which he helped found two years ago, have ambitious plans with help from funding partners including the Football Stadia Improvement Fund - which Avenue can now apply to having secured the lease to their ground.

The 3G pitch, which is thought will cost around £500,000, will conform to National League standard to enable the Park Avenue first team to play there. The plan is to install it in May, after their current campaign has finished, in time for next season.

It will be available for community use, providing more opportunities - particularly for youngsters - to play a range of sporting activities at the ground every day.

And Roberts said a crash mat would be fitted underneath the pitch to enable rugby to be played there.

He said: "We've been working hard on the lease for a long time, and we are grateful to Bradford Council and to Fields In Trust for showing this level of confidence in us to take the site forwards at last.

"Together with the Trust we have created the conditions for the community to come together and invest in what I believe can be a fantastic sports hub and a whole set of varied facilities for decades to come."

Roberts added: "In the works are security fencing around the site, a 3G pitch and getting some proper lights fitted around the ground, as the current ones are pointing all over the place. We couldn't apply for financial help from the Football Stadia Improvement Fund until the lease was signed."

Roberts lives in Texas now but was raised in the Holme Wood area of Bradford. The Park Avenue chairman feels there is not enough on offer for youngsters in the city and wants to help change that.

He said: "My goal is to help kids in Bradford. So many of the local grass pitches are in poor shape. Our proposed 3G pitch could be used every day and the new, modern lights cost less to run too. You can dim them, put them on and off whenever you want – they are very flexible."

While owning the lease to Horsfall opens doors to the possibility of accessing grants, Roberts says the club are looking for other potential partners to help finance the costs.

He said: “These improvements will not come cheap and unfortunately the 3G pitch is not eligible to get any funding from the football powers that be.

"That means that we will need to find partners to help with its funding. These things need to be financially viable, but there are many ways to partner up together."

Roberts added: "In anticipation of the signing of the lease, we have appointed Colin Wilson as our consultant director of development to add to our existing team and help pull everything together.

"He’ll be around quite a lot. We now invite potential partners and users of The Horsfall Community Sports Hub Project to come forwards with their ideas and discuss possibilities with us. We are very excited to hear from you."

Roberts added: “We've got plenty of pictures of what the ground should look like in future. Many people have already put in a lot of work planning this development."

Businesses interested in investing in the project or anyone interested in getting involved is asked to contact Colin Wilson on 03335660031.