New cycling facility for Britain

British cyclists may get a new cycling facility if all goes well. British Cycling hopes to operate an interim cycling facility at the Royal Docks during 2007, with the support of the London Development Agency (LDA). The Royal Docks planning application was submitted earlier this month, and a decision is expected early in the New Year. If planning permission is received, the Royal Docks facility will host a range of cycling events throughout the summer of 2007 in order to bridge the gap between the closure of Eastway Cycle Circuit (which took place in November this year) and the opening of the replacement Hog Hill Cycle Circuit in Autumn 2007.

Discussions on the detailed management of the facility are still ongoing between British Cycling and the LDA, with British Cycling keen to involve its regional representatives early in the New Year to ensure that this facility will be successful. A meeting will be held in mid-January for Regional officials, Club officials and prospective organisers or promoters.

The facility would be a first for British Cycling, which has never operated an outdoor cycling facility before. The plan calls for a 900m circuit on a stretch of redundant docklands to the north of the London City Airport. The site is already fenced, gated, lit and has 24 hour security. The LDA would provide any day-to-day maintenance needed during 2007. British Cycling would then manage and administer the facility, employing up to three people, with a grant from the LDA and cooperation from the Eastern, South Eastern and Central Regions, who have come together in an informal London Alliance for this purpose.

The location is right in the Heart of Newham which was ranked bottom London Borough and second-bottom nationally in Sport England's recent survey of physical activity so this is a strong "good news" story for cycling being pro-active in this way in exactly the right place. One of the British Cycling staff will act as an outreach coach to go into schools in Newham and the other four "Olympic Boroughs" to instigate cycling activity in the community, based on access to the new circuit.

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