A CYCLING hub is set to be built in one of the Capital’s poorest areas – sparking hopes the district will be boosted in the same way London’s east end was by the 2012 Olympic Games.
If approved, proposals for a revamp of land at Hunters Hall Park in Craigmillar will lead to construction of a BMX track, an outdoor velodrome and a cycle speedway, as well as synthetic turf and grass pitches.
The nearby Jack Kane Centre, which hosts a wide range of sporting activities, is also in line for a multi-million pound upgrade.
Early-stage plans for the project – which have provisionally been allocated £1.215 million of council funding – are being considered by planners. City bosses said the proposals were aimed at offering low-cost access to first-class cycling facilities for all ages and abilities.
Community leaders today hailed the scheme’s progress and predicted it would have a profound and long-lasting impact on the local area.
Paul Nolan, a member of Craigmillar Community Council, said: “It’s a great vote of confidence in Craigmillar that the city is looking to place this facility in our community. It’s on a smaller scale but I think there’s the same philosophy as there was behind putting the Olympics in the east end of London.
“Putting major sports facilities in the poorest communities has tremendous benefits – the main one will be that Craigmillar is seen in a better light throughout the city.”
The 2012 Olympic Games have been credited with supporting the regeneration of London’s east end, as the government, private businesses such as West Ham FC, developers and overseas investors continue to plough in money.
Mr Nolan said basing the centre in Craigmillar would also mean a boost for local children, who often struggle to afford to travel to sports facilities elsewhere in Edinburgh.
“Our youngsters, instead of having to travel all over town, will have the facility literally on their doorstep,” he added.
“It will make the facility more accessible for our young people. It’s less likely that young people here will travel to other parts of the city for sport.
“With the bus fares and general travelling, it’s a major expense for two or three kids to get to the other side of Edinburgh and back again. Having this in the community is something that can only benefit Craigmillar.”
City bosses have described the proposed scheme as “hugely significant”.
Councillor Richard Lewis, culture and sport leader, said: “This is about the fun aspect of cycling.
“It will be the first time we have a state-of-the-art facility that offers performance cycling and cycling as a leisure and fun activity.”