£1.6m velodrome cycling circuit bid for Paignton
A £1.56MILLION outdoor circuit could help boost plans to make Torbay a cycling Mecca for the South West.
Councillors are being asked to give their go-ahead to the new velodrome circuit which would be the first track of its kind in the South West and has the support of British Cycling which would fund half the cost.
Torbay Council would be expected to find the other half, to be recovered from grants, sponsorship and concessions.
The 400m outdoor track, proposed at Clennon Valley, would have banked sections.
Special fixed-wheel bikes would be used for local, regional and national competitive events.
There would also be a 1.5km off-road circuit which could also be used for competition and community use, from training primary school children to GP referrals for people trying to get fitter.
It would build on the growth in cycling in the country following the success of riders like Bradley Wiggins and local rider John Tiernan Locke, who won the Tour of Britain which finished a stage in Dartmouth last year.
Transport councillor Robert Excell said: "I think it would be fantastic for the people of the Bay, especially the youngsters who can learn to ride a bike in safety off road.
"The off-road circuit can be used for all sorts of activities including rollerblading, and by wheelchairs and scooters.
"While people enjoy using the track they will also be improving their health which has to be good for the Bay.
"It will also be on the route of the new cycle links between Torquay and Brixham."
Mayor Gordon Oliver said: "Cycling has never been more important nationally and this is a really exciting project which would strengthen our cycling sporting offer to residents and visitors with a positive knock on effect for the local economy. But, of course, any decision would be subject to council approval."
Ken Robertson, South West general secretary of British Cycling, welcomed the progress on the scheme and said it would attract cyclists from all over the region as well as provide a valuable training facility for local riders.
He said: "There has to be a business plan so that it is not subsidised by the taxpayer. Like a swimming pool, people would have to pay to use it and book a slot.
"Competition would be a relatively low-level activity. It doesn't mean there will be floodlights all night and loud music."
Steve Parrock, chief executive of Torbay Development Agency, said: "Cycling in all its forms is already a very popular sport and Torbay has a great opportunity to take centre stage in the South West as the sport goes from strength to strength.
"A regional sporting centre of excellence in Torbay would provide a great facility for our residents and youth especially and also attract many visitors through national and regional events, which would benefit the wider economy."
A track complex would be run by an organisation or club and the income would repay the council's cost of the track.
The nearest similar facility is in Bournemouth.
It comes as cycling has been identified by the council as a potential attraction for tourists as well as a health booster for locals and an environmentally friendly form of transport.
Parkwood Leisure, which runs Torbay Leisure Centre, has registered an interest in running the circuit.
The council has already won £525,000 funding for a series of on and off-road cycle link improvements, a first class BMX circuit at Parkfield, and a bid has been made for a further £600,000 off road circuit linking Occombe Farm, Cockington and Compton Castle. The latest project will go to full council on February 6. It would need planning approval.