There has been much speculation in the press regarding the current challenge of the Olympic Legacy Planning Permissions related to the Eastway Cycle Circuit and the proposals that have been presented to all users during the statutory public consultation with regards to the relocation of facilities i.e Rammey Marsh and Hog Hill
In order to inform our members of the history to date and the role British Cycling has played we have provided a brief overview of the background to the relocation issues below along with an update on the progress that has been made over the past week.
British Cycling again confirms its position that it has an open mind about the two potential relocation sites and will assess all the pros and cons in giving our opinion as to the best way forward. At present we have concluded that Rammey Marsh is a deliverable and viable option albeit with limitations in terms of its distance from the present Eastway and off-road provision. The deliverability and viability of Hog Hill has still not been clarified and British Cycling is continuing to work with Redbridge to develop the business plan for the potential relocation site at Hog Hill. In addition to this the potential for off-road provision at Hainault Country Park is also being investigated.
British Cycling’s CEO Peter King continues to lead on the project to secure the best possible facilities in the short, medium and long term for competitive and recreational cycling in London.
Background to the Relocation Issues
The Olympic and Legacy planning permissions were granted in October 2004. The permissions allow the construction of the facilities to enable the Olympic Games to be held in 2012 and the construction of the Legacy development. The planning permissions included a number of planning conditions relating to the proposed development. Before the Olympic development can proceed, it is necessary for a number of planning conditions to be discharged. Many of these are conditions which require the submission and approval by the Local Planning Authorities of strategies prior to the commencement of development.
In relation to Eastway the planning condition parameter and principle is:-
The Strategy shall ensure the continuity of suitable circuit facilities throughout the Olympic Construction, Olympic Games and Legacy Construction Phases of Development.
The strategy for the relocation of the Eastway Cycle Circuit has been developed to seek as minimal disruption as possible to the users of the Cycle Circuit and seeks to ensure continuity of provision for cycle users of Eastway. The strategy sets out the approach to securing the temporary replacement facility in advance of the closure of the Eastway Cycle Circuit in September 2006. The temporary relocated site will be open until the Legacy Eastway Cycle Circuit is opened.
Two possible sites for the relocation of the Eastway cycle circuit, Rammey Marsh and Hog Hill, are under consideration, in consultation with users of the cycle circuit. Among the key requirements for the relocation site are that:
• The relocation facilities can be made available in a timely manner to ensure continuity of provision for cycle users
• The relocation facility is able to satisfactorily accommodate facilities comparable to those at Eastway
• The relocation site, together with other measures to promote access to cycling facilities during the relocation period, is reasonably accessible to users of Eastway to ensure that users have continuity of provision.
At present the only deliverable and viable solution that has been presented to all partners, including British Cycling, is the Rammey Marsh site. Prior to the selection by the LDA of Rammey Marsh, British Cycling was party to confidential meetings regarding the relocation but not party to any negotiations or the decision-making process. Our role was as advisers and observers. LDA chose Rammey Marsh not British Cycling and it was endorsed by BC as the only viable deliverable option presented to us at the time. We have continued to endorse RM as the only viable, sustainable, deliverable option on the table i.e. the revenue funding to operate the facility has been confirmed by the Lea Valley Regional Park Authority (the current owners and operators of Eastway).
British Cycling have continued to support the planning application to ensure that the process continues in case no other option comes to fruition. If the planning application for Rammey Marsh had not gone ahead there would now be no prospect of any replacement circuit in time for the scheduled closure of Eastway. It has been recognised that this solution does have natural limitations in terms of its distance from the existing Eastway and provision for off road riding however it is still a viable option as a venue even if it does not provide all the facilities provided by Eastway.
There has been much speculation over air quality and contamination issues related to Rammey Marsh. The LDA’s reports on both these aspects can be accessed via the links below.
British Cycling is seeking further advice in relation to the air quality assessment report.
Hog Hill was put back on the agenda after a meeting hosted by the LDA and attended by representatives from BC HQ and from the South East, Eastern and Central Regions as part of a wider consultation regarding the suitability of Rammey Marsh. As part of this process all the previously discarded locations were reconsidered and Hog Hill was then brought back into consideration having been previously discarded by LDA but vigorously promoted by EUG. Since that time, British Cycling have sought to move the Hog Hill propositions forward and have met with all the potential key partners at the highest possible level.
British Cycling will support any planning application which comes about as a result of a viable project being proposed for Hog Hill by the LDA and Redbridge. Redbridge are aware of that potential support and at present the timescale for the completion of the business plan for Hog Hill is the 8th May.
Velopark post 2012
British Cycling can confirm to members that the Lea Valley Regional Park Authorities original ambition to create a multi-discipline Velopark on an expanded Eastway site regardless of the outcome of the London Olympic bid has not only survived but it is now enshrined in the planning conditions for the Olympic Park. Without any doubt there will be a multi-discipline Velopark on the site of the Olympics post 2012.
Current Consultation Process
The current consultation process was arranged between EUG and LDA. British Cycling have expressed our concern to all parties that this process is premature as there is not enough information about Hog Hill to permit a fair comparison at this moment in time.
Despite this we have encourage as many of our members as possible to take part in the consultation and British Cycling’s president, Brian Cookson, will be in attendance for the planned visits to Rammey Marsh and Hog Hill on Sunday.
Meeting between British Cycling and the LDA on the 28th April.
There has been much speculation regarding what has been described as a ‘final decision making meeting’ between the LDA and British Cycling HQ. This is categorically not the case. The meeting on 28th April between the LDA and BC was never a final decision-making meeting. It was the last meeting before the end of the present consultation. It was not requested by BC HQ but by the Eastern Region, direct to the LDA, and supported by the South Eastern Region. BC HQ was represented by Peter King, CEO of British Cycling.
British Cycling can confirm that all parties found it to be useful and informative and that each gained a better understanding of the positions being adopted by others.
British Cycling HQ current position
Pending the outcome of all these many and varied discussions – and many more besides – British Cycling continues to endorse Rammey Marsh, despite its limitations, as the only viable, sustainable, deliverable option on the table. We are working with LDA and Redbridge to see if Hog Hill can become a viable, sustainable, deliverable alternative to Eastway in the short term. We are talking to Redbridge and other local authorities about additional facilities to supplement those which might be provided by the Eastway temporary replacement. We are talking to Hackney, Waltham Forest, Tower Hamlets and others about possible locations close to Eastway where some cycling activity can take place for younger school children and club members.
It is also essential for everyone to understand that it will be the LDA that make the final decision on the continuity of suitable circuit facilities throughout the Olympic Construction, Olympic Games and Legacy Construction Phases of Development not British Cycling or any other group.
British Cycling Regional current position
At present British Cycling’s Eastern Region is supporting the position of keeping an open mind on both Rammey Marsh and Hog Hill until the feasibility of Hog Hill has been established. British Cycling’s SE Region and the EUG have rejected out right Rammey Marsh and are only supportive of the Hog Hill option.
Eastway Supporters League Statement regarding the Relocation, British Cycling has received the following statement from the Eastway Supporters League.
At a recent ESL Committee meeting the relocation to either Rammey Marsh or Hog Hill, members felt that Hog Hill would provide the better all-round cycle sport venue if the funding could be guaranteed in both the short & long term. On the other hand, funding appears to be secure at Rammey Marsh even though cycling facilities there fall well short of expectations. Therefore it was felt that ESL should await further developments and clarification on venues and sustainable funding.
With respect to the ESL’s Committee’s stance on this issue, the following resolution was passed:
‘The ESL at this time is taking a neutral position on the relocation of the Eastway cycle racing facilities. Neither Hog Hill nor Rammey Marsh shall be favoured more than the other. The ESL will wait until the LDA clarify whether funding will be available for Hog Hill on exactly the same basis as Rammey Marsh’ – said Mike Clark – Chair ESL