PEDAL PROGRESSION: Ashton Court to become bike park after duo’s bid was approved
A duo getting people cycling at Bristol’s Ashton Court said it was a dream come true to be able to create a bike park in Bath.
Pedal Progression has now been revealed as the successful bidder for Entry Hill after a tendering process, promising to make it carbon neutral and boost biodiversity.
Those elements were key in winning over site owner Bath and North East Somerset Council, which also wanted to end its £70,000-a-year subsidy.
Entry Hill currently hosts a nine-hole golf course and the news came as a disappointment for golfers who hoped the sport could remain.
The rebranded pay-to-ride Bath Bike Park is set to open next spring with trails, an asphalt pump track, facilities to learn and progress and an accessible ride around the perimeter. Biodiversity will be encouraged with a nature garden, pond and community growing area.
Pedal Progression founder and managing director Matt George said in a video to followers online: “It’s always been a dream of ours to design, build and run our own bike park.
“Surrounding the bike park is going to be a free to access area. The site is a real gem right at the heart of Bath. We don’t want to ruin that – we want to nurture it.
“We want people to be able to use that space as they have been for dog walking, running and general leisure activities. We’re going to put a cafe in that space.
“This is a real dream for us. We’re aware that the hard work starts now. We’re really excited for next year when those gates will open and we’ll see the site busy for the first time.”
Company director Ollie Cain added: “We’re excited that lots of people are going to be able to come on site, not just mountain bikers, and everyone is going to be able to enjoy the lovely green space.
“We’re committed to the bike park becoming carbon neutral and will work on an extensive tree planting programme. We will also make sure we protect the habitats that are there already while encouraging more biodiversity on the site.”
The bike park will link to existing and new cycle routes and promote walking and riding to access the site, encouraging people to leave their cars at home.
When B&NES Council consulted on the future of Entry Hill last year, 78 per cent of respondents backed it becoming a bike park.
Golfer Liz Hallam said at the time the consultation had been taken over by the “cycle lobby on steroids”.
Speaking at the cabinet meeting on February 11 she accused the council of mismanagement and said golf could be a “cost-free solution to a self-inflicted problem”.
She said this week: “I am not at all surprised it isn’t golf but very disappointed because there were always strong interest and viable, self-financing bids from the golf community.
“However, it had always seemed that the council was only interested in creating a predominantly mountain bike facility.”
Councillor Paul Crossley, cabinet member for community services, said Pedal Progression’s plans would breathe life into Entry Hill.
In an interview with Bath Newseum, he said: “We had five tenders that warranted analysis. One was for golf.
“We wanted activity levels raised. We wanted to have a good response to the climate and ecological emergency that we’re facing.
“We wanted to make sure there was no public subsidy in the long run. When someone is investing a lot of capital, we can wait for them to recuperate that before they start paying back.
“We wanted the end of chemical use so we can get nature and biodiversity back, and an activity that got lots of people active.
“Golf is a very good sport, it has a wide demographic, but there are also a large number of golf courses in the area.
“What we will get with the cycle park is a lot more nature in there. There’s going to be the wildlife pond, allotments, a disabled-friendly route all the way round. There’s going to be a lot of biodiversity put in.
“We had a very interesting bid from Avon Wildlife Trust, perhaps we can look to work with them in other locations.
“We’ve got a pause on Approach. I think that’s what the residents around want. They want to reflect. It’s been quite a fiery, stormy few weeks while we considered the outcome of the tender process there. We only got one tender, and the person looking to put golf in pulled out at the last moment.”
Words: Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporter
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