Plans for BMX track dropped from Jack Kane Centre revamp

Paul Nolan is disappointed about revised proposals for the revamp of the Jack Kane Centre. Picture: Joey Kelly
Paul Nolan is disappointed about revised proposals for the revamp of the Jack Kane Centre. Picture: Joey Kelly
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A PROPOSED BMX track has been dropped from plans for a revamp of the Jack Kane Centre in Craigmillar.

The move comes after a bid for Scottish Government cash for the project at Hunter’s Hall Park – which also includes an outdoor velodrome, cycle speedway, synthetic pitches and an upgrade of the sports centre – was knocked 
back.

The government had more or less promised the money and now it has reneged on it

PAUL NOLAN

But councillors have agreed to press on with the rest of the flagship scheme, with arms-length company Edinburgh Leisure plugging a funding gap of £2.1 million.

They said the BMX track could be built at a later stage “as and when additional resources become available”.

A report to councillors explained an application to the Scottish Government Regeneration Capital Grant Fund had been unsuccessful.

It said that recognising the importance of the proposed improvements to the viability of the Jack Kane Centre, Edinburgh Leisure had offered to step in with funding for that part of the project.

Edinburgh Leisure is also to take the lead on delivering the other elements of the project – the synthetic 3G pitches and the cycling facilities.

But the report acknowledges there will be a “reduced scope of works” to the Jack Kane Centre, taking into account the funding available.

Edinburgh’s cycling hero and six-times Olympic champion Sir Chris Hoy began his career on BMXs, flying around the streets near his parents’ Roseburn home on his bike. He raced BMX between the ages of seven and 14 and was ranked second in Britain, fifth in Europe, and ninth in the world.

Paul Nolan, a former community councillor in Craigmillar, said the prospect of a BMX track had excited a lot of youngsters. “I think it will be a very poor, second best option without that,” he added.

And he accused the Scottish Government of letting the community down by failing to fund the project.

He said: “There was extensive public consultation, all the local groups agreed it was a brilliant idea. The government had more or less promised the money and now it has reneged on it. This was not just for Craigmillar, it was for the whole city, but it was going to put Craigmillar on the map.

“This is one of the poorest ares of Scotland. You would think the government would be behind the project, not leading us up the garden path for three years and then letting us down at the last minute.”

The reduced project is costed at £4.6m, including £1.2m for the velodrome, £800,000 for the 3G pitches and £1.9m for the Jack Kane centre.

A council spokeswoman said: “By taking a phased approach, work can now begin on an outdoor track which will encourage children and young people to learn how to cycle in a safe and fun environment.

“We have re-engineered the project so that we can deliver what we can, when we can, with the funds available. A second phase will result in the creation of a state-of-the-art BMX facility. This will follow once funding has been confirmed and we believe the centre could be open by May 2018.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com