Barnoldswick bike firm plans £2.5m. velodrome

Prime Minister David Cameron pictured on a visit to Hope Technology in Barnoldswick.
Prime Minister David Cameron pictured on a visit to Hope Technology in Barnoldswick.

Barnoldswick cycling company Hope Technology has announced plans to build a velodrome behind its mill base on Calf Hall Road.

The company anticipate the development would cost around £2.5m. to construct in a two-tier format with a state-of-the-art 200m long Siberian timber track built on top of a brand new research and development workshop.

Hope’s co-owner Ian Weatherill, pictured above meeting Prime Minister David Cameron on his recent visit to Barnoldswick, has said the inspiration behind the design came from the 1969 classic film “The Italian Job” where the Mini’s drove around Fiat’s Lingotto factory rooftop test track during the getaway scene.

The move would make Hope the world’s first bicycle and equipment manufacturer to have an on-site velodrome.

The plan is for the company to use the track for testing products but while it isn’t occupied by Hope staff, it will be opened up for the public to use.

Hope bosses met with Pendle Council planning officers this week to discuss the plans and a formal planning application for the brownfield site location is expected to be submitted in around a month’s time.

Hellifield company Sutcliffe Construction will build the centre should planning approval be granted with German specialist engineer Ralph Schuermann developing the track.

If built, with a timescale of two years, it would only be the sixth of its kind in the UK after Manchester, London, Glasgow, Derby and Southampton.

The £2.5m. estimate for the velodrome’s cost is a fraction of those built in the cities above as it will not have any seating and it will not be a multi-purpose venue.

Mr Weatherill said: “It’s something different. It’s a plan I have had in my head for about a year now.

“We want people to know what we are doing which is why we are bringing it into the open now.

“We have met with planners and they can’t see anything drastically wrong with it. We’re getting into a position to put in a formal application and we are hoping to do it in the next month or so.”

Mr Weatherill says it is the company’s love of cycling first and foremost which is behind the idea.

He believes a track could unearth the next Sir Bradley Wiggins or Sir Chris Hoy and expressed frustration that the public cannot readily access a velodrome due to enormous waiting lists, such has been the boom in interest in cycling.

Interest in Hope’s project has also been high already according to Mr Weatherill, who says professionals prefer to train on 200m tracks compared to Olympic length tracks, such as those in Manchester and London.

Mr Weatherill added: “The waiting list at the velodrome in Manchester is six months. It’s just ridiculous.

“We want to bring people on. There are massive numbers of British Cycling qualified coaches within a 30-mile distance but it’s the tracks we are short of.

“We have already had people from British Cycling wanting to use it and we have had clubs ringing us up!

“Victoria Pendleton used to train at the UCI’s (International Cycling Union) test track in Aigle in Switzerland because of its 200m length.

“You can get two more corners into a kilometre of training on a 200m track compared to an Olympic length track of 250m.

“Corners are the most difficult part on a track and that is why professionals prefer them.”