Hadleigh Farm, the venue for the Olympic mountain biking cross-country events, will be opened to the public after the Games after a planning application was approved.
A Castle Point Borough Council planning department spokesperson confirmed to BikeRadar that the plans, originally proposed by Essex County Council and landowner The Salvation Army, had been greenlit.
The park post-2012 will not just be geared towards mountain biking but the whole community. The cross-country course, currently set-up to test the skills of the world’s best cross-country racers, will be adapted to make it suitable for all abilities, while a wider network of trails and paths will be developed for cyclists, runners and walkers.
A new visitors centre will be built which will house a café, changing rooms and equipment hire as well as a space where the Salvation Army can base a training centre.
As well as the adapted mountain biking course, there will be a separate ‘skills area’, a space measuring 2,850 square metres with rock obstacles and jumps. Plans suggest it will be built within an individual area rather than interconnecting trails.
A beginners section measuring around 500 square metres will see a looped section of trail built for children and adults looking to practice basic mountain biking skills.
Over 300 people turning out to hear the outcome of the planning application and while its approval is fantastic news for mountain bikers, not everyone welcomed the news. One local resident urged the council to reconsider the plans for the trails that will cover the entire park, with objections including a desire to “retain the country environment” and that “blind bends” on the trails “creates potential accidents between horse riders, dog walkers, hikers and walkers, with cyclists”.
There is no news yet on when the park will re-open to the public.
The Olympic mountain bike events begin on Saturday 11 August and the women’s race with the men following the day after. For a full guide on the events, take a look at our comprehensive guide or check out the course video below.