Conservation groups fight plans for Cambridge Velodrome and Derby cycle track
Not everyone in Derby or Cambridge is happy about planned cycle facilities in both cities
Plans for an outdoor, open-air velodrome as part of a sporting village in Cambridge and an extension to a cycle track in Derby are being resisted by conservation groups in both cities.
Groups trying to conserve the green belt around Cambridge and the Sanctuary Bird Reserve in Derby from the cycling facilities have managed to stall the projects.
In Cambridge the charity, Cambridge Past Present & Future (CPPF), told the Cambridge News that the facility planned for Trumpington, to the south of the city was as a poorly disguised attempt to build more houses on land supposed to be safe from development.
The velodrome plans had already been rejected from another site in Cambridge, but the chairman of CPPF, Robin Pellew, acknowledged Cambridge’s need for “better sports facilities” while rejecting Trumpington as a location.
He said: “Yes Cambridge is a cycling city but is there really a need for a velodrome? Of course there is a need for better, more accessible sports facilities across the city but green belt in Trumpington is not the right place”
Referring to work that is already underway on a separate development near to the suggested site on the Hauxton Road, Pellew highlighted the overcrowding of the roads as a key area for concern.
“This area is already hugely congested and work on the properties approved isn’t yet complete.” he said “Adding more journeys into the mix from residents and visitors to a major new sports complex would, in our opinion, be a recipe for disaster.”
However, the project director for the proposed velodrome, Ed Skeates, remains upbeat and is pleased that discussion is at least taking place.
He said: “It’s useful that there now seems to be some meeting of minds around the shortfall of sporting facilities.
“We will continue to discuss our plans as we work towards this shared goal.”
Meanwhile in Derby, plans for an extended cycle path in the shadow of the £27m Pride Park Velodrome, have faced opposition similar to that in Cambridge.
The extension plans for the cycle track had to be redrawn after wildlife groups voiced their opposition. However, the redesign proved unsuccessful as the groups continued to oppose plans even after the revision was announced.
The previous plans had seen the track cut right through a large portion of the Sanctuary Bird Reserve, which the council were involved in creating in 2004, prompting protests from wildlife groups.
A spokeswoman told the Derby Telegraph that the new plans, which are still yet to be finalised, are situated “on the edge of the Sanctuary and run along two sides of it”.
Councillor Martin Repton has defended the council's attempts to find a compromise.
He said: "We've looked for sensitive modification, taking on board people's concerns to try to meet the aspirations of both cyclists and wildlife enthusiasts."
Despite the council's effort, the conservation manager for Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, Tim Birch, says that they will continue to oppose the cycle track as a matter of principle.
Birch said: “It still sets a dangerous precedent where a council that set up a nature reserve is now planning to potentially destroy 20% of it."
Opposition to cycling projects such as these have been overcome in the past. The outdoor velodrome in Bournemouth, built in 2011, overcame a lobby, lead by local residents who wanted to turn the proposed site into a village green.
If the Cambridge velodrome overcomes the protests it will join four other outdoor velodromes that have received planning permission in 2013.
Early in the year the South West saw two velodromes given the go-ahead in Torbay and Paignton. Funding was also agreed for a concrete track in Edinburgh in the spring, and in York a custom surfaced velodrome is to be built ahead of the Tour de France’s visit in 2014.