Mayor of London Ken Livingstone has announced that a funding package has been agreed which will see the development of a state-of-the-art VeloPark built in the Lower Lee Valley regardless of the outcome of the London 2012 Olympic bid.
The £22 million cycling complex will be funded by Sport England – £10.5 million, the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority (LVRPA) – £6 million, the Mayor’s London Development Agency (LDA) and Transport for London (TfL) – £3 million and £2.5 million respectively.
The VeloPark will be a unique regional cycling centre serving London and the South East which will be accessible to a whole range of users, from those learning to cycle through to international cyclists and clubs, schools, family groups – of all ages and all abilities.
The 34 hectare site located on the northern end of the proposed Olympic park next to the A12 will include an indoor 1500 seat velodrome (which could be upgraded to seat 6,000 in an Olympic Games scenario), an outdoor cycle speedway circuit, a 1.6km road racing circuit, an international competition BMX course, a BMX freestyle park, a cyclo-cross/cross-country course mountain bike course.
Mayor of London Ken Livingstone said:
‘The UK has some great cycling talent as our exceptional performances at the Athens Olympic Games show. These new facilities will nurture our current and future UK cycling stars and the wide range of facilities mean they will also provide wonderful leisure facilities for the whole of London. The VeloPark will be built whether or not we get the Games and will be a major step forward in the regeneration of the Lower Lee Valley, bringing jobs and investment to the area.’
The development will be situated in a traffic free environment and will be linked to the existing National Cycle Network. It will embrace the growing popularity of cycling as a pastime and alternative mode of transport.
The Lee Valley Regional Park Authority (LVRPA) has been working with British Cycling for over two years to develop proposals for a regional cycling centre. This funding commitment will now turn this project into a reality and sends a strong and credible message that the London 2012 bid is legacy led’.
Lord Carter of Coles, Chair of Sport England said:‘Having conducted some preparatory work with our partners, we recognise that the site at Lee Valley would provide a fantastic location for the Velodrome and Velopark. One that would not only benefit our London Olympic bid but would also be valued by the local community for many years to come.’
Shaun Dawson, Chief Executive of LVRPA said:
“We are delighted funding has been agreed for the VeloPark as a planned facility. The park will be the first of its kind and will be a unique, world class venue for all disciplines and levels of cycling. This is an exciting project which is fully supported by British Cycling.
“LVRPA is providing the land required and has agreed total revenue funding. We are also making a major capital contribution as part of a funding package in partnership with the LDA, Transport for London and Sport England.
“The VeloPark will be accessible to all and bring substantial environmental and regeneration benefits to the region. We are totally committed to making this vision a reality.”
Sebastian Coe, Chairman of London 2012, said:
‘Delivery is crucial to the International Olympic Committee. Many people don’t realise that we already have 60 per cent of our venues for 2012 in place. We have begun work on the Aquatic Centre and will now begin work on the Velopark which will be ready four years before the Games. This is a great example of delivery and puts real momentum behind our legacy plans. There is nothing better to demonstrate London is serious about sport and about winning these Games.’
Tony Winterbottom, Executive Director of Regeneration and Development at the LDA, said:
‘This is fantastic news for London’s growing cycling population, but the impact on the area as a whole – particularly neighbouring communities – will be even more impressive. The investment in world-class sporting facilities in the Lower Lee Valley will kick-start the regeneration of this area and help to set the benchmark for quality development throughout the Thames Gateway.’
British Cycling’s Chief Executive, Peter King said:
‘The VeloPark is only the second piece of “pre-build” for 2012 to be announced. That, and the timing of the announcement, just before the IOC’s crucial visit to London, are both significant and point to cycling’s current status within the sporting hierarchy. British Cycling has shown itself to be a reliable deliverer of Olympic success, but it has also used its existing facilities wisely and this has assisted in the sport by securing this excellent new facility. I think I am speaking for the nation’s cyclists, when I say that I hope it will be a cornerstone of a hugely successful Olympic bid by London.’
The site is 34 hectares in size and is wholly owned by the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority and set within the 4,000ha Lee Valley Park which stretches 40 KM from the north of London down to the river Thames. The planned facilities will be situated at the northern end of the proposed Olympic zone and on either side of the A12 at the current Lee Valley (Eastway) cycle circuit and sports centre. To the north of the A12 is the old sports centre site and to the south is the Eastway Cycle Circuit.
The existing Eastway Cycle Circuit is a 30 year old road track facility which attracted nearly 22,000 users in 2004 and held 130 competitive events. Top cyclists Bradley Wiggins and Tour de France legend, Eddy Merckx are just two of the champions who have trained and competed on the site. It is estimated that the Velopark will attract up to 88,000 users a year and will encourage cycling as a recreational sport and as a recreational activity improving the health and quality of life for residents of the Lower Lee Valley.
The VP concept has been inspired by the Olympic masterplanning process and will be a major contributor to the regeneration of the Lower Lee Valley. The development of a velodrome in London, an objective in British Cycling’s National Strategy, will complement the national centre in Manchester and the other regional centre in Newport.