KIRKBY Lonsdale RUFC is carrying out a series of developments at its Underley Park ground.

With the first XV currently occupying top spot in the North One West League, plans are taking shape for off-field evolutions to keep up with the on-field performance.

Work on a new pitch close to the site entrance is now under way and there are plans for a new training room facility and possibly a 4G all-weather surface.

Nigel Winn, club secretary at Kirkby Lonsdale, believes a streamlining of the club's management and a new sensible approach to everyday operations has been key to the up-turn in fortunes.

"At the moment we are experiencing quite a lot of success and that is completely down to a new progressive, forward-thinking management team – together with that we have a completely dedicated group of coaches and talented players that have come through our youth teams," said Mr Winn.

"We are desperate for national league rugby, if we get it we will be very happy. We are preparing as best we can, but the club is taking nothing for granted.

"We realise it's a hard ask, especially with all the strong competition, with teams like Kendal doing very well."

Although there are other projects in the pipeline for the club, for which they have received permission from South Lakeland District Council, work has already started on a new full-length pitch to be used by the club's teams, from the first XV to the younger players in the mini and youth set-ups.

The club has received funding for the new playing surface, with approximately £59,000 from Sport England and a further £25,000 from the Rugby Football Union.

With all the proposed developments expected to cost £400,000, Mr Winn is hopeful the club will be afforded additional funding to lay the foundations for rugby higher up the sport's ladder.

"Hopefully there'll be more from Sport England and the RFU, or if we don't get all of it (the money) we'll just do the work in stages," he said.

The club has also secured a new long-term lease on the ground that it has played its home games on since its formation in 1877, with a 50-year agreement to carry on playing at Underley Park. This has given the board a more secure footing to shape the future direction of the club and is making it easier to bring in funding.

But with everything looking rosy for Kirkby Lonsdale both on and off the field, Mr Winn is wary of people getting carried away.

"We have got our feet firmly on the ground, it's hard work and preparation that will take us forward," he said. "All the plans we have are not going to halt whether we go up or not.

"We are very lucky we are in a financially healthy situation. What money we are spending is money we have earned – we are not spending money we don't have."

Kirkby Lonsdale RUFC has two huge fixtures coming up, starting at home to Penrith on Saturday followed by the derby against third-placed Kendal on February 20.