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Bid to build velodrome and make Yarmouth the cycling capital of Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 10:30 14 September 2012

The Tour of Britain traveling through Great Yarmouth as part of the first stage of the race.

Picture: James Bass

The Tour of Britain traveling through Great Yarmouth as part of the first stage of the race. Picture: James Bass

(C) James Bass 2012

AMBITIOUS plans to elevate Great Yarmouth to a regional cycling centre of excellence will provide a velodrome and family riding centre under an £800,000 package aimed at boosting health and tourism.

Plans are said to be well-advanced with sporting and health-based organisations adding their support for the scheme already two years in the planning, but hoping to ride a wave of enthusiasm in the tyre-spinning wake of the London 2012 Olympics and Tour of Britain.

Neil Turner, of Gorleston, whose social enterprise ActivatingCIC is promoting the scheme said that it could be running within a year of the right people saying ‘yes’ delivering a “lasting inspirational legacy” to the town.

Great Yarmouth, he added, had already risen to a rallying cry and proved a demand with 300 people turning up for a “come-and-try” day and one of the most popular youth sessions in the country held at the town’s stadium, attracting up to 50 riders.

He said: “We would like Yarmouth to really grab hold of this and we have proved the town can respond. We have some pretty severe health problems and there are a surprisingly large number of funding pots available.

“We were talking to Sport England last year about a site in Lowestoft but it just wasn’t right.

“We would love this to be in Yarmouth to link with the tourism and health agenda. We have to look at it from a business point of view and the town has great potential.

“The closest velodrome is the one at the Olympic Park in East London. We know there is demand in Yarmouth so wouldn’t it be great if we had one here? At the end of the day cycling is our most successful Olympic sport and there is such a buzz at the moment.”

The company works across the county promoting cycling. In Yarmouth it has transformed biking to school rates from 1-2pc to 15pc across eight Yarmouth schools, with a further eight due to come under the spotlight soon.

Among sites earmarked for the new facilities is the boating lake on Yarmouth’s North Drive where Mr Turner envisages a small velodrome with the country’s first sand-dune BMX track supported by a shop and cafe.

His eye has also fallen on Bure Park, transforming the former Marina Keys complex into a family riding centre with trails to Acle, lifting the under-used park and providing a gateway to the Broads.

Other elements which require little funding beyond a few lines on the road include creating a cycle route around the seafront and historic quarter, encouraging people to explore on two wheels and boosting visitor numbers.

Mr Turner who works with business partner Kevin House, from Norwich, said he had met with the borough council and was hoping for “energy and commitment” from officers to bring a permanent, traffic-free facility to Yarmouth that would make it stand out and add to its offer.

Yarmouth he added had become focused on the arts and culture but was one of the four districts to invest in the Tour of Britain and had an opportunity to harness local enthusiasm.

For more information visit www. activatingCIC.co.uk and the NCA website at www.pedalrevolution.co.uk

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