The owners of the Velodrome, The Dulwich Estate, have now rejected Southwark Council’s offer for a 5 year lease extension. They plan to to lock the site on 31st January and negotiate a new lease with an un-named commercial leisure company. Details are unknown and time-scales uncertain.
A statement from the Dulwich Estate has outlined the short term future of the Herne Hill Velodrome. Sad to say it looks uncertain, unless it’s a big money backer with an interest in cycling taking up the project. Maybe Lance Armstrong could save it and plan his hour record around a new development at one of Europe’s oldest and grandest venues? We can only dream…
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The Dulwich Estate statement in full:
The Council’s original lease of 42 years expired on 31 March 2002 but since then, the Estate has granted three extensions (the last of which was until 31 January 2005), in order for the Council to produce a viable scheme to secure the sustainable future for the Velodrome.
During this time, the Council, together with British Cycling setup the London Velodrome Trust and in April 2002, the Council funded a feasibility study which resulted in a Scheme which proposed roofing over the cycle track (to enable it to be used year-round), a viewing grandstand, gym, indoor climbing centre and a complementary therapy and sports injury treatment facility. However, the cost of this Scheme is some £7 million and to date none of this funding capital has actually been secured from the targeted Government agencies, commercial enterprises and charities. The Council has indicated that it would seek to provide match funding of up to £750,000.
The Dulwich Estate agrees with the Council that the site is in need of major improvement if it is to be viable in the long-term and after three years, in view of the high degree of uncertainty regarding the availability of capital funding and the final form of the scheme proposed by the London Velodrome Trust, the Estate has decided not to grant a fourth extension of the lease to the Council.
The Estate will now explore with other parties, alternative leisure uses for the site which, if financial viable, will include cycling. Although the Velodrome will be closed from 1 February 2005, the Estate will examine the possibility, in the short-term, of making the track available to cyclists; it had asked whether the Council would continue to underwrite this with its appointed managers of the site, Fusion, whilst the new lessee develops a scheme to secure the future of the site, but the Council has rejected this possibility. At this time, it is therefore uncertain whether the traditional Good Friday cycle meet can be accommodated on 25 March 2005 but the Estate is in communication with the LVT regarding the possibility of a licensing arrangement to operate the track in the interim.