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Press Statement

Here’s the full press statement, it’s quite long:

12 May 2005

The London Development Agency, in conjunction with Sport England and Lee Valley Regional Park Authority has supplied the Eastway Users Group with an undertaking that the present Eastway facility will continue largely as it is now in the event of an unsuccessful bid for the 2012 Olympics. This is despite huge development pressures around the area of Stratford International Channel Rail Link Terminal.

In a meeting held at their offices on 9 May, Eastway Users Group representatives heard directly from Sport England’s Regional Director for London and its Head of Major Projects about the Olympic bid and its legacy in the event of an unsuccessful bid. Also present was Lee Valley Park’s Director of Leisure and Environment who gave answers to a set of questions made by EUG to the LDA’s Project Executive for the Lower Lea Regeneration. The meeting was therefore able to resolve a number of issues with great authority.

The answers are very encouraging for all those interested in cycle sport on the site;-
· Eastway’s 53 acre site south of the A12 link will retain the same perimeter. No land around the edges is to be lost to development in a non-Olympic scenario.
The existing road circuit will either be left as it is or only be changed to allow for demonstrable improvements. In a non-Olympic development there will be no need to reconfigure the circuit to cross and recross the A12 link road, though the clubhouse and changing provision needs to be sited at the new northern site for management efficiency. A ‘satellite’ basic facility would be provided trackside.

The existing off-road cycling areas will remain available for MTB XC and Cyclo-Cross, with continued protection given to the Sites of Importance to Nature Conservation within them.
The entire Eastway site is Metropolitan Open Land and in non-Olympic scenario the LVRPA intends to uphold the Act of Parliament that charges it with protecting the site.

Furthermore, LVRPA has now committed to the entire non-Olympic site being exclusively for the amenity of cycle sport and cycling. This is major progress to counter Olympic legacy announcements on the provision of Hockey stadia within the bid legacy site. Planning consent has been given to site an Olympic facility on the present circuit. In the event of an unsuccessful bid the developers must make new planning applications for the announced Hockey development to be sited elsewhere.

New facilities will be sited to the north of the A12 link road. A velodrome and BMX circuit will be built, as the LDA announced in February 2005. Funding from Sport England, Transport for London & LVRPA. It is not clear at this stage how much of the intended £22m funding will remain to improve any of the facilities on the southern site.

LVRPA has consistently stated that it would not allow land to be taken from the amenity in the event of a non-Olympic redevelopment of the area. But non-Olympic plans from the funding announcement in February 2005 showed a reduced site with little or no provision for off-road cycling and a road circuit of dubious value. An associated and more recent public pronouncement in the cycling press by British Cycling’s national facilities officer appeared to concede that space for facilities not related to cycle sport or cycling could be found on a reduced site. This was not acceptable to users who achieved this meeting with Sport England as a result.

Eastway Users Group has consistently represented the needs of cycling and cycle sport on the site. It strived to obtain assurances from the developers and the site’s management that the future of cycle sport – both on-and off-road – would be assured. It saw early Olympic and non-Olympic plans as a great threat. These had been approved by the developer and the Olympic bid company in consultation with cycle sport’s national governing body. Eastway Users Group came quickly into existence at the end of 2003 with a mission that assumes London will win in its bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games; “To campaign for the New Eastway to have improved facilities for all disciplines of cycle-sport (including infrastructure such as club and changing rooms, car parks etc) without any facilities being lost during the construction phases.”

In the event of a London 2012 Olympic Games, Eastway Users Group has already won the planning condition that development cannot commence until suitable interim and legacy provision is made for cycle sport. In this case, it’s obvious that cycle sport will have to relocate road and off-road cycling away from the site for a considerable period, with velodrome and BMX disciplines being on the new site north of the A12 link road for the Games. The MTB XC Olympic venue is announced as Hainault and the Road Circuit is around central and north London. It’s not clear where an interim site will be offered as LDA’s land holdings are commercially sensitive and highly subject to speculative interest. It is clear that interim provision has to be made, and it has to be clear what cycle sport will return to before the demolition could begin.

These latest assurances of the continued operation of Eastway in a non-Olympic scenario complete this phase of EUG’s actions until the IOC announcement is made on 6 July. The Group will shortly convene a public meeting for after that time to give planners, developers, landowners and funding bodies the opportunity to outline the plans they specifically intend to enact on the site once the IOC decision is known. The sport’s national governing body will be invited to send a high-level delegation to provide comment and information on its position.

In the event of an unsuccessful bid all users of Eastway can look forward to a choice of the best facilities for cycle sport in whatever discipline they please. The enlightened and proactive stance taken by LVRPA towards cycle provision now and in the future is a major benefit in this. Certainly it has to provide considerable resource in support of the new facility it intends.

The new facility will combine the best of what Eastway offers now, together with a new north zone offering disciplines new to the expanded site.
A much-needed velodrome and new BMX provision on the new area north of the A12 link road will be built managed to provide regional centres with an open-access policy for riders of all abilities.[National elite facilities remain elsewhere for these disciplines and seating is minimal in non-Olympic mode]. The road circuit will continue to be the country’s finest cycle-only traffic-free closed circuit with a 30-year pedigree of top-class and regular highly popular events.
Off-road cycling will continue to thrive on Eastway’s very varied terrain improbably close to central London and Docklands. MTB XC and Cyclo-Cross series’ popularity can increase further.

Youth cycle sport provision through the youth club and through schools sessions will continue to introduce the pleasure and practicality of cycling to a new group of riders that London needs to help solve its transport, sustainability and long-term public health issues.

Cycle speedway has a strong local heritage and its intended introduction to the site with a newly purpose-built facility seems highly likely to succeed now the plans can be made more suitable for intended users.
Eastway’s huge catchment area means so many top sport cyclists can continue learning the sport and training for top-level competition on- and off-road.
Clubhouse, shower and changing facilities will be upgraded and new.
The inter-play between different disciplines will increase, allowing new riders to find a flavour of cycle sport that suits them best for more cycling by more people.

Eastway Users Group will continue to work with all the bodies concerned with cycle sport development in and around London to ensure the growth of the sport beyond the initial protection of the current facilities. Its primary focus remains to protect and foster the facility at Eastway which it hopes to be able to continue doing so successfully with those in authority with whom it enjoys an open and constructive relationship. The Group published its “Book of New Eastway” in February 2004 as a result of its own consultation exercise and as a guide to any developer or planner seeking to deliver a cycle sport facility acceptable to present and future users. The Group has been pleased to play its part in delivering informed comment and detail on the provision for cycle sport at the site and in London as a whole.

Eastway, or the Lee Valley Cycle Circuit, is 53 acres of Metropolitan Open Land set aside for the recreation and sporting pursuit of cycling. It comprises a 1.6km road circuit and wide areas of hilly ground for off-road cycling including the Olympic discipline of Cross-Country Mountain Bike and the very popular discipline of cyclo-cross. Situated near to Stratford and the New Spitalfields Market in East London, the facility opened 30 years ago in 1975. Organised cycle sport takes place there several times a week with regular leagues for road racing, time-trialling, MTB XC and cyclo-cross. A highly popular and vibrant youth cycle club operates there every Saturday morning. The site is owned and managed by the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority.

Aside from Eastway, London offers only three cycle sport facilities;-
Hillingdon – Part of the Minet Park nature reserve this road circuit in West London operates for limited periods each week and lacks basic facilities.
Crystal Palace – Able to operate for only 2.5 hours each week this road circuit is popular and demanding to ride.
Herne Hill – London’s original historic Olympic and cycle sport legacy this outdoor velodrome is currently closed

Cycling has consistently been identified as Britain’s most popular outdoor active recreation for adults and children alike (Sport England surveys 2002 & 2003) . Young riders are not safe on the roads and are not permitted to compete in any location where they could come into contact with traffic or the public at large. Yet they are not legally permitted to ride in most parks or open spaces either. Current traffic-free facilities and increased provision is key to cycle sport development as an organised and fun sport activity for young people.

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