Council to agree £1m cycling track funding

Sir Chris Hoy in action

Sir Chris Hoy in action

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AN outdoor cycling track in Edinburgh’s suburbs is on track to open late next year, with councillors set to agree a £1.2 million funding package within days.

A one-kilometre loop and a new BMX circuit and training facility – a first for Edinburgh – will be built at Hunters Hall Park in Niddrie, next to the Jack Kane Sports Centre.

A regional track cycling facility is also part of the plans. Funding is due to be rubber stamped at a committee meeting on Tuesday.

City sports convener Councillor Richard Lewis said the new facilities would complement the Capital’s bid for the National Performance Centre for Sport, which would bring a wealth of sporting experience and talent to the city.

Heriot-Watt University and the council are preparing the joint bid in efforts to update Edinburgh’s ageing sports infrastructure. They are vying with Dundee and Stirling for the Scottish Government-funded £25m arena.

The council is to put forward a further £5m to secure the stadium, which would be based near Hearts training ground in the city’s south-west.

Work to design the new cycling facility is expected to start next week. The banked track will be used by junior and senior club and semi-professional riders, replacing the ageing velodrome at Meadowbank Stadium. A submission for extra funding will be made to Sportscotland.

Graham Jones, head of membership services at Edinburgh RC Cycling Club, said the new hub was needed to meet a huge groundswell in competitive cycling since the London Olympics and Sir Chris Hoy’s success.

A total of 160 new members have joined the club in the past 12 months.

Mr Jones said: “We’ve had 80 to 100 extra youths turning up to every event. To have a facility close to hand will be fantastic.”

Lothians Green MSP Alison Johnstone, who has been outspoken about the need for improvements at Meadowbank, welcomed the commitment of funds, but warned: “There’s always great excitement around the development of new facilities, but there’s never so much commitment to maintaining these when they’re built. There’s a lack of realistic maintenance budgets, which leads to facilities being run down.”