Olympic velopark plans approved: but will they be changed again wonder cyclists
Plans to develop what could be one of the best cycling facilities in Europe on the Olympic Park were approved last week, after a long battle mounted by amateur cyclists - who fear this may not be the end of it.
This is the latest twist in Eastway cyclists’ battle with Olympic chiefs over plans for a new cycling track at the 2012 Park to replace Eastway Cycle Circuit which was kicked off the Olympic Park once development began there.
Once the Games are over, the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) has pledged to build a mile-long road cycle circuit and 8km of mountain bike trails around the park’s Velodrome to create what will be known as Lee Valley VeloPark.
Contention struck a year ago, when the OLPC submitted new plans, overshadowing a previous one which had been approved two years before.
Instead of a fenced off circuit crossing the River Lea over bridges into Hackney parkland, they wanted to squeeze the circuit into the north side of the river, around the Velodrome.
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Hackney Council supported the scheme, which it said would create better quality parkland with unrestricted access to the river, but Sport England and British Cycling opposed it.
But in August, the OPLC withdrew the new application and agreed a compromise which restored the river crossing, with British Cycling, Sport England and the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, who will own and operate the VeloPark after the Games.
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“I never thought it would go on this long and be so difficult to make sure an existing community of people could continue doing sport on the Olympic park,” said Michael Humphreys, chairman of the Eastway Users’ Group.
“The latest consents are another milestone, but there have been at least three approved schemes now and with a process going since 2003 how many more miles to go?
“How do we know they won’t decide our sport is in the way again, as the open space gets reduced again?” he added.
The Legacy Company aims to complete the VeloPark by the end of 2013.