Written evidence from Eastway Users' Group (OLL 32)
Our Group is concerned to ensure the re-provision of an amenity on a site that had designated status as Metropolitan Open Land solely because of its London-wide importance to cycle sport. Eastway Cycle Circuit was built on a landfill site in 1975 to provide a one-mile traffic-free road circuit and it later also became the venue for the country's largest weekly mountainbike cross-country race series. With time-trial, road racing and mountainbike cross-country, we already had a facility where a large cadre of people from all backgrounds and age-groups taking part in three Olympic sport disciplines on a site in Inner E London. We seek to protect the people who voluntarily take part in and organise such events throughout the Olympic developments and beyond into legacy.
It is our Group that took the loss of amenity before the Planning Inquiry into the Olympic Park land assembly. In order for us to withdraw our objection to the compulsory purchase the LDA eventually proposed it could offer a proper relocation to a Crown Estate site that we located in Redbridge.
Initially there was to be no offer of relocation, so we secured that as of right in the planning conditions. Later when an entirely inappropriate site came to be proposed we raised our objections and found a suitable site.
To conclude the process, we signed the legal agreement binding the developer to this suitable relocation and we subsequently negotiated the provision of an interim facility when the site could not be prepared in time. However, we still lost two seasons of racing and suffered the displacement of events before the relocation belatedly opened in 2008. so it is evident that the planning process was not protecting our interests as well as it might have done. Having to go through all the stress induced by the planning process shows the developer did not make anything easy for us although it got exactly what it wanted when it took possession of the site in October 2006.
This history makes us very concerned to ensure the Olympic Legacy for our sport disciplines is absolutely defined and that the necessary funds for its legacy-time development are protected from any re-evaluation of the budgets and spending on Olympic Legacy within the relevant planning zones.
We have lately spent over two years in many detailed meetings with the developer, the Games company and their architects to bring an acceptable plan for the Velopark into being. We were horrified when we first saw the plans for legacy and to their credit LOCOG, LDA and the ODA took our views on-board in order to make their plans more sustainable. This resulted in a plan of which we can approve, subject now only to the detailed planning of the off-road elements such that the Olympic Sport of Mountainbike Cross-country will again be possible on the site.
We also found the backing of the site's prospective operator, the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority (LVRPA) which has consistently engaged with our Group's approach because it reflects the reality of promoting cycle sport events and running cycle clubs - activities in which our membership is actively engaged.
[In reading the most recent evidence presented by the LVRPA I have had cause to query the wording of a clause in the Authority's memorandum in which it states: "19. The velodrome replaces the Authority's Eastway Cycle Circuit, built in the 1970s which had reached the end of its working life." - I am advised the Authority intended to put the word 'Velopark' instead of 'velodrome'; but you would be advised to check with the author.]
Our Group would welcome further questions from or engagement with your Committee where the matter of Olympic Legacy and provision for cycle sport is concerned. Since the development got going, since the London Games and the Olympic Lands Assembly have become a reality we have seen many other interests and priorities seeking to over-write the history of the site. It is as if the protection for our sport of Metropolitan Open Land, or as if the prior planning conditions to ensure we receive a legacy had never existed.
We welcome the currently published plans for the Olympic Legacy and would like to see them delivered in full as a worthy reinstatement of Eastway Cycle Circuit that we had to give up in order to make way for the Olympic Park.