YORK Railway Institute is today launching a campaign to protect its sports facilities which could be knocked down to make way for the city centre 'teardrop' development.

RI president Frank Paterson said the club's buildings in Queen Street are under threat from the York Central plans, which might involve demolishing the Queen Street bridge.

The facilities include nine badminton courts, five squash courts, table tennis rooms, a gym and weights room plus snooker and billiards tables.

To help save them, the club - which has 2800 members - has produced a leaflet urging members and residents to 'Shout for York RI'.

It asks supporters to make their views clear in City of York Council's consultation, which ends on Monday, February 15.

"Our aim is to get it recorded on paper how important these facilities are to so many different people in York," said Mr Paterson.

"We want them listed in the planning framework."

Pointing to the nine badminton courts, he added: "This is part of what we are trying to protect.

"This is the one that really should survive. There are all ages using this.

"Because we are planning to be a charity, we can offer facilities for the less well off in society, which is really important.

"These facilities are unique to York. This is where they hold the county championships, not only for badminton, but for judo and table tennis as well."

The RI is York's biggest amateur sports club and the Queen Street site houses much of its facilities.

It is bidding to become a charity to improve its financial position and should hear soon whether it has been successful.

Colin Weir, RI general manager, said: "The problem for us is the uncertainty.

"We are investing lots of money in upgrading these facilities.

"Really and truly can we do it with this hanging over our heads?"

Although the main hall, which was originally used for building trains, dates back to 1865, it is not listed.

Last year, the RI's Queen Street facilities hosted 160,000 personal activities - a term meaning one user doing one activity for at least 30 minutes.

A spokesman from City of York Council, said: “As part of the consultation on York Central we are seeking to better understand residents, stakeholders and businesses’ views to inform the development of a planning framework.

"We are holding a number of drop-in events and public exhibitions, whilst paper/online surveys can still be completed before 15 February...The planning framework will be published in the summer and a formal consultation will follow. No development will take place without normal planning processes being followed.

"We’ve already received 450 responses since the consultation started and lots of people have turned up to events which just goes to show how engaged people are with shaping any future development.

“York Railway Institute are valued consultees and their views are being sought as part of the consultation. We are doing this directly with their representatives rather than through the media.”