Outdoor velodrome and BMX track plans backed

Cyclists' facilities will be given a �7m revamp. Picture: Gary Hutchison
Cyclists' facilities will be given a �7m revamp. Picture: Gary Hutchison
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cyclists are on track to get a new outdoor velodrome, speedway course and high-speed BMX track as part of a £7 million overhaul of the Jack Kane Centre sports facility.

Plans which would see the park given a major revamp to replace the Meadowbank velodrome are set to be approved by councillors.

Two 3G pitches for football and rugby will be created, while six grass pitches will be retained on the Niddrie site, also known as Hunter’s Hall Park.

Plans for a 1km closed road circuit for street cyclists have been dropped after objections were raised.

Alastair Maclean, the council’s head of corporate governance, said: “A mix of opinions was registered, including some specific concerns about the project. These included the potential loss of green space for the park.”

National athletics body Sportscotland echoed those concerns, prompting councillors to drop the circuit idea.

Richard Lewis, the city’s culture and sport leader, said he believed the cycling community would back the plans.

He said: “We’ve had overwhelming support for a cycling hub in Hunter’s Hall, with more than 90 per cent of people telling us new cycling facilities in the park would be welcome.

“We also know that cycling in Edinburgh is on the up, and that the overwhelming preference from the local community is for a cycling hub that encourages young people to enjoy learning cycling skills in a safe environment. Some local residents told us that they had concerns over the impact a cycling hub development might have on green space in the area. The proposed option that will be put to the council’s culture and sport committee for a decision aims to minimise that.”

Councillors will vote on the plans next week and are expected to give them the green light.

The plans have been previously criticised by Edinburgh cycling champion Callum Skinner, who said Scotland’s rainy weather would force the open-air velodrome to close in the winter, rendering it useless for aspiring track cyclists.

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

City chiefs have already ring-fenced £2m for the project and intend to borrow the remaining cash.

Councillor Lewis said: “This is about investing in our existing sports facilities where we can, and it’s crucial that we channel funds appropriately and for the greatest overall benefit.”

nash.riggins@edinburghnews.com