Big new cycling centre for Kent

By James Costley-White, in Bath, England | Tuesday, December 21, 2010 10.05am

A big new cycling centre is to be built in Kent which will include mountain bike trails, a road circuit, a BMX racetrack and family cycling paths.

Cyclopark will be built next to the A2 between Dartford and Gravesend. Work is due to begin in January and take 10 months. The centre is expected to attract over 100,000 visitors a year.

Facilities will include 6km of off-road trails, with separate routes for different abilities, a 2.9km long, 6m wide tarmac circuit, which has the capacity to be extended to 5.3km, and a 340-metre BMX track with a pump track alongside it.

Plans are in the pipeline for a 'Jamie Staff Academy', named after the BMX world champion, and a "cycle based playground" for children, and the centre will also include a skate park and running facilities. It'll be set within 43 hectares of landscaped parkland criss-crossed by cycling and walking routes.

Kent Thameside Regeneration Partnership spokeswoman Hilary Castle told BikeRadar: "It's going to provide all sorts of facilities for everyone from professional sportsmen and women to the average person living nearby who just wants to go for a cycle ride. We're hoping to be open by the end of 2011 but at the latest we'll be open by March 2012."

The contract for construction of the park was this week awarded to civil engineers VolkerFitzpatrick. It's expected to cost around £9.7 million. Kent County Council has so far pledged over £7m. Further funding has been secured from Sport England, the Colyer-Fergusson Trust, British Cycling and the Homes and Communities Agency but more capital is needed.

British Cycling CEO Ian Drake said: “The plans for the Cyclopark venue look fantastic. It's a perfect example of the continued efforts we're making, together with Sport England, to create excellent modern cycling facilities across the UK. The new velopark here will offer people of all ages and abilities an opportunity to enjoy cycling in a safe, controlled and traffic-free environment, supporting the growth of our sport at the grassroots and helping us develop future cycling stars.”

More information about the scheme can be found at www.cyclopark.com.

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