Plans have been unveiled to build on Yorkshire’s Tour de France legacy with the creation of a state-of-the-art cycle track as part of a £4.5 million development on university land on the edge of Leeds.
The University of Leeds is teaming up with the UK’s sports governing bodies to develop the land on its Bodington playing fields near Adel, north of the city’s ring road, and hopes to complete the scheme by October.
The 1.6 kilometre tarmac closed road cycle circuit would be available for use by staff, students and the wider community, if the plans are successful, while the Bodington sports pavilion would also be refurbished.
It is hoped that the pavilion would then be used as the base for British Triathlon’s elite training centre, where top performers such as the Brownlee brothers could access strength and conditioning, physiotherapy and support services.
Funding is on the verge of being agreed for the project, with UK Sport and British Cycling providing £1 million and the university itself said to be needing to clear “one last hurdle” before it puts up the remaining £3.5m.
But officials have warned that the scheme could be at risk if the October deadline is missed for the completion of the project as funding from British Cycling and UK Sport would then not be guaranteed.
The University of Leeds is committed to sporting excellence and to opening up its facilities for the benefit of the public and this cycle track is a big part of that.Rob Wadsworth, University of Leeds
Olympic triathlete Jonny Brownlee described the plans as “very exciting”. He said: “It would take the triathlon facilities to the next level and make Leeds the complete triathlon city. We really hope that these plans go ahead.”
Rob Wadsworth, Head of Sport at the University of Leeds, said: “The University of Leeds is committed to sporting excellence and to opening up its facilities for the benefit of the public and this cycle track is a big part of that.
“We excel at cycling, our students are consistently at the top of their sport in the UK and the proposed track has the backing of key sport and cycling bodies.
“We look forward to meeting elected representatives and local residents to explain the plans and answer any questions they may have. Arrangements for a community consultation session are currently being finalised.”
The university is currently considering its funding of the plans and seeking planning permission for the project, though no application has yet been submitted. It is hoped work could begin as early as March.
The Bodington site is currently used by staff, students and residents for grass sports activity such as football and rugby, which would continue after the proposed development is complete.
Officials say the proposed improvements complement the university’s existing Sports Park Weetwood, its 100-acre facility used for hockey, football, rugby, cricket, lacrosse and American football.
In a letter sent to a local councillor, Mr Wadsworth said he hoped to arrange a community consultation so residents could examine the plans.
He said: “Unfortunately we are in a position where time is critical, due to the nature of the site we have a window of opportunity to complete the works this year (March – October).
“If this is missed the we will have to wait to 2017 which we understand would put the partner funding (British Cycling and UK Sport) at risk, and there for the entire scheme at risk.”
Councillor Barry Anderson, who represents the Adel and Wharfedale ward in Leeds, said he backed the scheme in principle but wanted assurances about the safety of the junction and the “cumulative impact” of other proposed developments in the area.
He said: “Based on what I have read I would be in favour of it, because of the way it would add to the legacy of the Tour de France.”