Last year Hivelo and its partners (A4A Lottery, Scottish Cycling and NoSCA) jointly commissioned two independent studies to explore possible designs and a business plan for a low cost indoor velodrome serving the wider Inverness city-region.
The results were positive and immediately made available to consultants advising Highland Council on the prospects for a new Regional Sports Facility to be located in Inverness. Those investigations were reported to the full Highland Council at its meeting on 12 March 2015.
The Council has unanimously endorsed the principle of developing the new multi-sports performance centre. This will deliver ‘state of the art’ sports & leisure amenities for the public and elite competitors alike across the Highlands and adjoining areas.
It will cut out the need to travel to the Central Belt or even further afield for regular training and competition. It will provide guaranteed all-weather, year round facilities in a highly accessible location. It will provide a safe traffic free environment for participants and sports officials to get the coaching, support and confidence needed, especially the young.
The options feasibility study has recommended a preferred mix of sports facilities in the new complex. A raised 250m. indoor wooden cycling track is expected to form the main component. Four tennis courts will feature in the sunken infield, with judo, gymnastics and fitness/conditioning suites positioned in the track understorey. An indoor athletics complex including a 60m sprint track and warm up facilities is also incorporated.
A number of sites around Inverness are available for these facilities, but the favoured location is adjacent to the existing Bught sports hub and Queens Park athletics stadium. This would tie the new velodrome into the adjoining skate/BMX park, mountain bike trails and skills area and other potential cycling facilities – a true ‘VeloPark’.
Provisional capital expenditure of £30m. has been shown for this project but important cost-sharing economies are expected to reduce that figure. It is envisaged that the new centre will qualify for around £5m. from a sportscotland-administered Commonwealth Games legacy pot to be shared between four Scottish cities, including Inverness. The remainder is contingent on current negotiations between the Council, Scottish and UK Governments for a major ‘City Deal’ infrastructure funding package. These discussions are expected to be completed in a few weeks’ time.
A further report detailing the proposals and refining the construction and future operating costs will come back to the Council on 14 May 2015. Subject to progress with the City Deal, it is anticipated that the Council will authorise detailed design work and other steps needed to take this exciting project forward.
John MacMillan, Chair of the Highland Velodrome Trust, has commented that
“This is a tremendous day for thousands of cyclists of all kinds right across the Highlands. Our remoteness, poor facilities and adverse weather have finally been recognised with these imaginative proposals which will provide a real boost to every branch of the sport and the whole cycling fraternity. The Highlands have produced many exceptional world-class riders and the new facilities will guarantee that proud tradition is taken to new levels in the future.”