Brakes put on national velodrome plans amid concerns about cycle lanes to venue – The Irish Times

Planners have put the brakes on proposals for a national velodrome — dubbed Ireland’s “home of cycling” — over concerns about the cycle lanes leading to the venue. Authorities have also voiced concerns over the prospect of non-sporting events being held at the up to 3,500-seat arena in north Dublin and the resulting noise from concerts.

Sport Ireland had asked for permission to build the 8,100sq m center — which is to include a “cycling walk of fame” — at its National Sports Campus. It had been hoped the national velodrome and badminton center in Blanchardstown would be well on track in time for preparations for the Paris Olympics in 2024. But Fingal County Council has raised a number of issues about the planning application. It rejected the proposals for a cycle route leading to the velodrome, as it would be shared with “significant” car traffic on certain days.

The suggested bike-parking facilities were also “not acceptable”, it said. The council has asked for revised plans for a “segregated” cycle path and walkway as well as a “dedicated” bike park. The bike park needs to reflect “the increasing diversity of bicycles”, it said, including tricycles, cargo bikes, e-bikes and scooters. Furthermore, Sport Ireland had not provided any details about “occasional non-sporting events” that could be held at the venue, the council said in a decision on the planning application. It asked for “clarity” on the types of events envisaged “and the frequency of the same and information provided on any potential impacts arising from these events, for example, in terms of noise”.

The local authority also warned the planned Irish Water connection to the site could interfere with the roots of trees in an “important woodland group”.

Matt McKerrow, chief executive of Cycling Ireland, has previously voiced his hope that a national velodrome would be open in advance of the 2024 summer Olympics. As there are no indoor velodromes in Ireland, Irish track cyclists have to do much of their training outdoors.

The arena — which is planned to have 1,000 permanent spectator seats, which can be boosted to 3,500 using temporary seats — is part of the Government’s National Development Plan. Speaking at the time of its inclusion in the plan, Mr McKerrow said it was “an eagerly anticipated” development which would have a “significant impact” on Ireland’s international cycling. He said Sam Bennett’s winning of the green jersey at the Tour de France two years ago — the first Irish green jersey winner since Sean Kelly in 1989 — had shifted enthusiasm for the sport up a gear.

“A velodrome setting really becomes a hub for the sport, where we can teach people,” he said. “It’s the home of cycling, if you like, so when the future generations see Sam Bennett, and what he has achieved, there’s a place for them to come and learn.”

Sport Ireland said its application was lodged in early August and that Fingal County Council has “sought further information … on a number of minor aspects”.

“This does not constitute a setback, and Sport Ireland expects to be in a position to provide the requested information and clarifications in the coming weeks,” a spokesman said, adding it expects to revise its plans by the end of the month.

Cycling Ireland said it was “delighted” the velodrome has moved to planning stages.

“The construction of Ireland’s first indoor velodrome on the Sport Ireland campus will greatly contribute to our objectives of increasing grassroots participation in cycling as well as providing a world-class training and racing environment for high-performance athletes,” a spokesman added.

A council spokeswoman said the local authority has requested additional information on a small number of issues and the applicant has up to six months to respond. She said that once the information is submitted, a decision can be expected within four weeks “with a final decision issuing thereafter, unless the application is appealed to An Bord Pleanála”.

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