250-metre Slades Farm track gets go-ahead despite residents' objections...

Cyclists in the Bournemouth area are set to benefit from a new cycle track in the South Coast resort after the local council rejected objections from local residents and approved the £880,000 scheme.

The 250-metre track will be used for recreation, fitness training and competition, and will also provide a safe location for cycle training to be given to youngsters. Besides cyclists, it will also be available to skateboarders and joggers. The site will also include toilets, a café and a play area.

Slades Farm was selected as the most suitable site for the new facility from a shortlist of 11 locations identified by the council to replace an earlier track around the cricket pitch at Winton Cricket Ground, where usage had to be restricted during the 1990s as a result of safety concerns.

That track was operated by Bournemouth Arrows Cycling Club, and while the new track will be managed by the council’s leisure services department, the club remains closely involved, and in 2006 and 2007 operated Learn to Ride classes for children on the proposed site in order to test potential demand, with between 50 and 60 children aged under 12 participating.

The Ensbury Park Residents Association opposed the plans, however, and sought to have the land designated with town green status.

That proposal that was rejected by the council upon the recommendation of a planning inspector, who decided that for town green status to be granted, it would need to be shown that people using the land were trespassing, which would not apply in this case since the cyclists would be using it with the permission of the landowner – Bournemouth Council.

The decision means that the scheme can now go ahead with no further legal hindrance.

Jean Scovell, chairman of the Ensbury Park Residents Association, told the Bournemouth Echo: “I don’t think there’s anywhere else we can go. The inspector recommended it and we can’t appeal the decision.”

She added: “I am still glad we fought, because it gave us four years.”

Following the planning decision, the council will be able to obtain £440,000 in funding from British Cycling, with the balance of the cost of the project coming from developers under section 106 agreements and £130,000 from the council’s own funds.
Councillor Anne Filer, Cabinet Member for Tourism, told the newspaper: “I’m thrilled the plan for a modern cycling facility, which will benefit all ages and abilities, can now go ahead.”

Chris Turner, Executive Principal at Glenmoor School and Winton College, which is close to the proposed facility, added: “This opens up all sorts of possibilities for educational, recreational and leisure use. We’re very excited.”

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.