New £5m Otley ‘Olympic Park’ site revealed

Wharfedale Observer: Tony Walker, who with his committee is aiming to transform these playing fields in Otley into an Olympic legacy sporting centre of excellence Tony Walker, who with his committee is aiming to transform these playing fields in Otley into an Olympic legacy sporting centre of excellence

The site chosen for a £5 million sporting centre of excellence in Otley has been revealed.

The Chevin Olympic Park, intended as a fitting legacy project for both London 2012 and this summer’s Tour de France, will be built on playing fields at Wharfemeadows Park.

First though, the project’s steering committee needs to secure the required permissions and funding to forge ahead and create the “first class” facilities for cyclists, athletes and other sportsmen and women it has envisaged.

The committee has already held discussions with landowners Leeds City Council, Harrogate Borough Council – because the site actually lies within North Yorkshire – and Prince Henry’s Grammar School, whose students currently use the fields.

But steering group chairman Tony Walker said the project had reached a crucial stage. He said: “We are going public about the site because we are at the point where we need to get out there and get on with it and get the funding process moving.

“We have done a lot of preliminary work to try to anticipate any potential problems and met various officials to let them know what we are doing, and we have all the relevant permissions we need to proceed to the next stage – with both councils, Prince Henry’s and others all right behind us.

“Now we really need to get the funding rolling.

“The whole idea is that this will be somewhere where we have first class sporting facilities for everybody in Otley to use – so it’s obviously not going to be cheap.

“To do absolutely everything we’re probably looking at a cost of £5 million but that doesn’t mean we can’t start sooner and smaller – there are phases we can do and we will need to do that and start at a lower level.

“We’re now going to formalise our planning application – the goal is to submit a plan to Leeds this year – and start some formal funding applications.

“We also want to get the community behind us and will be arranging lots of fundraising events of our own to generate money.”

The Chevin Olympic Park’s facilities would include:

  • an outdoor cycle route and a 400 metre athletics track
  • a two-storey clubhouse
  • a full size, floodlit artificial football/rugby pitch and hockey pitch
  • an athletics throwing area.

Mr Walker claims it would represent one of the few true ‘legacy’ projects to emerge from the last Olympics and this summer’s Tour de France.

He said: “We believe this sports park would be a true Olympics legacy and we want to make the most of the fact the Tour is coming to our town and make it happen.

“If we can get it built over the next year or two then anyone who goes up and uses it will see the standard of the facilities for themselves, and know that it is a fitting part of the legacy.”

Anybody who would like to support the project or who has a fundraising idea can contact Mr Walker on 07970 706552.

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