OLYMPIC legacy proposals for Hadleigh Country Park will take a major leap forward this month as work is set to start on a new complex to get more mountain bikers riding through the area.
The new hub lies at the heart of Essex County Council’s £6.8million vision to transform the park into a top tourist attraction, catering for 400,000 visitors a year.
A building, which will be constructed at Sayers Farm, will comprise ranger facilities, a bike hire shop, visitor centre, cafe and changing rooms.
Contractor Hugh Pearl will start the work on January 27.
Professional cyclist Luke Farey, who runs the BMX training company, Get Out There MTB, in Hadleigh, welcomed the news.
He said: “I’m really excited about this. It’s going to be so good for the local area.
“Hopefully, it will create a real social atmosphere down there and somewhere we can go to keep warm and get a cup of tea after a ride.
“Certainly, it will encourage more people to try out mountain biking for themselves.”
Mr Farey, who is also a member of the Hadleigh Mountain Biking Club, said he is in talks with King John School, Thundersley, to try to inspire the next generation of cyclists.
He has already received funding to run a Sportivate initiative to run courses for people wanting to take up mountain biking and venture on to the challenging Olympic track.
Mr Farey added: “It’s going to be such a huge benefit to the public to have this facility on their doorstep.”
Contractors have started work on the creation of 18km of new trails through the park to try to improve access for walkers, runners and horse riders.
The trails will be completed in the summer. The Olympic track will also be adapted for public use, catering for all abilities, ahead of the official opening in 2015. An Essex County Council spokesman said: “In October, contractor Hugh Pearl began construction work to improve and enhance existing trails to make them suitable for use, all year round.
“The contractor also started to create some of the new network of trails which will make the park more accessible for a wider range of users.
“Work on all paths at Hadleigh Country Park is progressing well and is on schedule to be completed by summer 2014.”