Cycle track plans unveiled as Colchester could become regional hub for the sport

An aerial image showing junction 28 on the A12, shortly after completion of the Weston Homes Communi

An aerial image showing junction 28 on the A12, shortly after completion of the Weston Homes Community Stadium but before other works in the area. - Credit: Archant

Colchester could become a “semi-regional” cycling hub under ambitious plans revealed by the borough council.

Colchester Northern Gateway vision map. Image: Archant Graphics Unit.

Colchester Northern Gateway vision map. Image: Archant Graphics Unit. - Credit: Archant

More details have been revealed about the authority’s efforts to turn 100 acres of agricultural land north of the A12 at junction 28 into a major sports centre, with an emphasis on cycling.

The proposals are part of the wider Northern Gateway vision for Colchester, which already includes the Colchester United ground, David Lloyd tennis club and outline plans for a multiplex cinema – which would be located next to the Weston Homes Community Stadium.

Under the sports hub plans, being developed alongside British Cycling, a closed road bike circuit and BMX track as well as potentially an outdoor velodrome could run alongside health and fitness facilities with a cycle focus and a possible extreme sports centre.

Colchester Rugby Club, along with an American football team, archery club and dog training group which use the club’s pitches, could also re-locate to the site as part of an expansion programme which would see up to 12 pitches and two artificial playing surfaces with spectator gallery.

To help fund the development part of the existing rugby club ground in Mill Road would be sold for housing, with a portion of the site kept as a village green-style gap.

Other funding would be dependent on support from sports bodies such as British Cycling and Sport England.

The proposed cycle facilities will be aimed at both the public, with bikes available for hire, as well as semi-professional athletes with the cycling centre including treatment rooms.

Walking, cycling and horse-riding routes will allow people to access different parts of the site.

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Bill Frame, borough councillor for economic development and planning, said: “We are looking at providing the sort of facilities people in Colchester who want to keep fit and healthy need, and other leisure activities.

“Cycling facilities are probably under-provided in Colchester, and the idea is to support the sport.

“This is for people from across the spectrum, from youngsters to elite racing cyclists. I would expect the facilities to attract people from a wider area, maybe semi-regional.

“This is just a vision, the full business case is not there yet. There will be ups and downs, but we think it’s important to get it out there and give people an idea of what we are looking at – and hopefully get a bit of feedback.”

The plans are still at a very early stage, and nothing has yet been confirmed, though if the proposals progress as expected an outline planning application could be entered as early as next spring. The facility could open in 2018.

Members of the council’s Revolving Investment Fund committee will debate the plans at a meeting on Wednesday evening.