THE CONTENTIOUS cycle trials at Newbold Comyn in Leamington are now officially open.
Warwick District Council announced that the series of family friendly cycle trails, including a learn to ride area for those new to mountain biking, were now ready to be used by residents looking for an off-road space to cycle.
The construction of the cycle trails was made possible thanks to a £423,500 grant from Sport England and British Cycling through the Places to Ride fund, with additional funding provided from the Community Infrastructure Levy.
But the journey up to this point has been far from smooth for WDC, which has been spearheading the project.
Campaigners called for work to stop on the trails earlier this year.
The Friends of Newbold Comyn group claimed that the original plans for family friendly cycle trails had “deviated” to become “mountain bike trails over two-thirds of the former golf course, a large learn-to-ride area and a cycling hub”.
And they feared the more extensive cycle network, with steep trails designed for speed, would lead to Newbold Comyn becoming a destination venue for riders from far and wide – whereas the originally ‘family-friendly’ plans were geared towards local cyclists.
The group of over several hundred members launched a petition in March and encouraged anyone concerned to sign it in a bid to stop further development at the country park.
Planning permission for the trails was granted in May 2021 and WDC said this week that it continues to work with the planning authority on a variation to the application due to some variation in the original plans.
The council continued that opening the trails followed the development of a masterplan which involved extensive public consultation after the golf course closed and Newbold Comyn remained open to all users.
WDC will be carrying out routine safety checks on the site, and will be seeking to appoint a company to operate the cycle hub facilities in the old golf shop and take over maintenance of the trails in the near future.
WDC leader Coun Ian Davison added: “I’m very pleased that the cycle trails are now open with a variety of routes suitable for a wide range of cycling abilities. I am particularly delighted that the learn to ride area provides a safer, off-road location for children, young people and those new to cycling to become comfortable riding a mountain bike. Hopefully this will help people become more confident and lead to them using their bikes as a preferred method of transport for shorter journeys, whether to the shops, school or for leisure.
“We know that it has taken a long time to get to this point, and we appreciate the patience of all those who have been keen to see the trails open. It’s now time to officially open the trails as checks are complete, signs are up, and maintenance schedules in place.”