Cycling centre plan unveiled

THIS is the new £3.5 million cycling centre that could put Ipswich at the heart of the nation's pedalling revolution.Keen cyclists from across southern England could flock to the town if a new centre on the edge of the Ravenswood community gets National Lottery backing.

THIS is the new £3.5 million cycling centre that could put Ipswich at the heart of the nation's pedalling revolution.

Keen cyclists from across southern England could flock to the town if a new centre on the edge of the Ravenswood community gets National Lottery backing.

Its promoters are due to seek funding through Sport England and the lottery - and hope to get 80 per cent of the £3.5 million cost of the new centre.

"If you look at the map of England and Wales there are no specialist cycling centres in this region at all," said Steve Grimwood.

He's one of the leading lights of the Eastern Cycling Centre's Supporters' Group which is promoting the new centre.

"This would not just be a sports facility, it would be a real leisure facility for everyone who wants to use it," he said.

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There would be a two-kilometre road circuit, where people could race or just ride bikes without worries of traffic.

It would have a 2.5-kilometre off-road mountain bike trail and a 250-metre cycle speedway track.

The centre would also include a new BMX track, which would be more secure than the existing centre on Landseer Park, a multi-use area and a hire centre with gym.

At present there are no plans for an indoor velodrome on the site - but if the centre is developed and then London is awarded the Olympic Games in 2016 that could follow.

"If London were to get the games there would be a need for training facilities like velodromes reasonably close to the capital," said Mr Grimwood.

"If there's a centre here, then Ipswich would be in the prime position to get a new velodrome at the cycling centre."

Space for a velodrome has been earmarked on the initial plans - but the centre itself is still some way off.

"We're hoping to put in the application for lottery funding later this year and get a decision by Christmas.

"If that happens we would hope to get going fairly soon and have the centre open by 2006," he said.

"We have been told that our bid is strong and we would hope to get the 80 per cent funding we will be looking for.

"That will still leave us with £700,000 to find, but we are reasonably confident we will get help from health and sports bodies - as well as from groups anxious to promote road safety because we could use the centre to teach that to young children," Mr Grimwood said.

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