Plans for a £1 million outdoor velodrome in Middlesbrough which had been thrown into doubt after Sport England raised an objection to the project, now seem secure after the body retracted its opposition.
Middlesbrough Council’s planning committee gave its unanimous backing to the facility last week, but Sport England initially opposed it on the grounds of “loss of playing pitches,” reports Gazzettelive.co.uk.
Now, however, the website reports that the body, which allocates funds and gives strategic guidance for sporting activity at national level, has withdrawn its objection following a request by the council's planning officer, Ernie Vickers. British Cycling had already given its “full support” to the track being built.
Mr Vickers told the committee that the pitches, formerly used by Teesside Tertiary College, had not hosted sports for two years after Middlesbrough College, which it had merged with in 2002, brought its facilities together on a single site.
Had Sport England not withdrawn its objection, the issue of whether or not to grant permission for the velodrome would have rested with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles.
Referring to the committee’s decision to approve the scheme, Councillor Brenda Thompson, who sits as an independent, said: “This will bring elite cyclists into Middlesbrough. I think it’s fantastic.”
The athletics track and temporary changing facilities at the Middlesbrough Sports Village are due to be completed at the end of this month, with the site’s permanent facilities opening in April next year.
When the proposed track was announced earlier this year, British Cycling chief executive Ian Drake said “the new outdoor velodrome will give the sport of cycling a great lift in the north east, and provide the region with a great opportunity to develop a long-held passion for the sport even further.”
Mayor of Midlesbrough, Ray Mallon, added: “It is essential that the Middlesbrough Sports Village has the sort of facilities we know people want, and the inclusion of a velodrome has been high on the agenda from day one.
“The aim from the outset has been to create an iconic sports destination of regional significance, and the velodrome will help to ensure it is a centre that attracts people from Middlesbrough and beyond for many years to come.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.