Bike star wants halt on Edinburgh velodrome plan

Options include an outdoor velodrome for BMX.  Picture: Johnston Press

Options include an outdoor velodrome for BMX. Picture: Johnston Press

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BUILDING an outdoor velodrome in the Capital would be an “opportunity wasted”, according to a sprint cycling champion.

Callum Skinner, who won a British title in 2012, was speaking as a consultation was launched over plans for a cycling hub at Hunters Hall Park in Niddrie, the site of the Jack Kane Centre.

Options include an outdoor velodrome for track cycling, BMX and cycle speedway tracks, plus a safe closed road circuit for riders to learn new skills.

It also includes proposals for new synthetic turf 3G football and rugby pitches to compensate for the loss of grass pitches on the site.

But Edinburgh racer Skinner, 22, said Scotland’s rainy weather would force the open-air velodrome to close in the winter, rendering it useless for aspiring track cyclists.

He said the city council had to follow the lead of Glasgow, which built the indoor Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome for the Commonwealth Games.

“The proposals are flawed, and Edinburgh’s climate doesn’t suit an outdoor velodrome,” he said.

“You can’t use it when it’s wet. I don’t know in whose head this makes sense.

“I remember the first time I came down to my track in Meadowbank, I got turned away and it was shut over the whole winter. They are saying it’s the perfect facility for youths and cyclists – it’s not.”

But Commonwealth Games silver medallist Louise Haston and Craig Burn, chief executive of Scottish Cycling, have spoken out in support of the plans.

Ms Haston said: “Facilities like this will not only provide opportunities for adults and young people to develop their cycling abilities and try the sport, but will also provide a safe environment for people to cycle and hopefully encourage more people to be physically active.”

A council survey has been launched to gather opinions from city residents and cycling clubs on the plans, which aim to offer low-cost access to ­facilities.

Staff will tour public venues such as libraries, schools, and Edinburgh Leisure facilities to consult on the vision. The council has ring-fenced £1.2 million to fund the plans and hopes to attract investment.

Councillor Richard Lewis, the city’s sports leader, said: “Our aim is to provide young people in Edinburgh with facilities where they can sharpen their skills and gain confidence in their abilities. All the facilities would be open at low cost to anyone with an interest, and there would be some free ­sessions made available also for local young people.

“We know that the proposals for Hunter’s Hall outline potential changes to the level of open green space in the park, and we understand there will be concerns about this.”