ESSEX residents have resoundingly backed plans to keep a world-class mountain biking course in Hadleigh after the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Nine out of 10 residents believe cycling is an important part of planned development at the Hadleigh Castle Country Park site after it plays host to the Olympic mountain biking next August.
The same number said they wanted improved visitor facilities alongside the course to allow for the increase in tourism the Games will bring.
As excepted, results indicated that a large percentage of people, over 60 per cent, already walk and cycle at the site, with historical usage (visiting Hadleigh Castle etc) and natural interests (bird watching etc) also high up in people’s uses with 53 per cent and 38 per cent respectively.
The figures come from a questionnaire conducted by Essex County Council in September. The survey invited ideas, comments and preferences from interested parties including Essex residents, those living close to the course and spectators who attended a test event at the course earlier this summer.
The Hadleigh Farm Legacy Consultation questionnaire was designed to enable Essex County Council and it partners, The Salvation Army, Castle Point Borough Council and The London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), to incorporate the ideas, comments and priorities of the people using Hadleigh Farm after the London 2012 Olympics Games.
At a test event in July this year, double Olympic gold medallist Julien Absalon caused controversy by suggesting the legacy course should be restricted to only professional riders after the Olympics.
When asked by the Enquirer for his views on the future of the course at the time, he said: “It is a little bit difficult for the amateurs; maybe it would be a good idea to keep it like this for practice but not for the amateurs.”
But it seems residents were not in agreement with the Frenchman as they gave across the board support for beginner, elite, family and group use of the site following the Olympics.
Councillor Stephen Castle, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Education and the 2012 Games commented: “We are delighted with the response we have received from this consultation and look forward to working with the local community and other stakeholders to develop plans over the coming months.
“As we had hoped the people of Essex are keen to maintain the Mountain Bike course and open the venue up to the wider pubic for a number of different uses. We are committed to making the most of the opportunity of hosting the London 2012 Mountain Bike events to create a legacy for not just Hadleigh but for Essex.”
Residents who expressed an interest in participating further in the consultation on the Hadleigh Farm Legacy Venue have been invited to participate in a series of consultation workshops, to enable Essex County Council to understand in more detail the priorities of specific community groups. This input will be taken into consideration as proposals are developed, which are expected to be finalised in early Spring 2012.
For more information on the consultation and the Essex Legacy visit www.essexlegacy.org.