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Country park cyclist invasion fears over Olympic path scheme
RESIDENTS are concerned plans to widena popular path at Hadleigh Country Parkwill see an influx of cyclists.
In August 2012, Hadleigh Farm hosted Olympic mountain bike events which attracted more than 40,000 spectators over two days.
Piggery Lane will be closed for five days from Monday, as works begin to resurface and widen the path.
The works are part of the Olympic legacy project which will see the area revamped – opening to the public next March.
The 2m path will be widened in places to 2.5m and the gravel path hardened to make it easier for wheelchair users and pushchairs to use.
But residents are concerned the improvements will encourage more cyclists to use it.
David Hurrell, 59, of Willow Walk, Hadleigh, said: “This pathway is historic. It’s beautiful.
Dog walkers love it. It’s a haven for wildlife and billowing with wildlife.
“They’re putting a surface down that will be ideal for mountain bikers.
“Changing it will appeal to the cyclist and, to all intents and purposes, it will become a main road for anyone coming from the Southend side. They will come down Castle Lane and Piggery Lane.
“This will becomeamain thoroughfare for the thousand of cyclists Essex County Council said will use this site. I’m keen on wildlife and I’m very keen our community is not shafted.”
The county council, which is overseeing the Olympic legacy, says the works will improve the path, which is sometimes impassable for four months in bad weather.
The shrub and trees alongside the path will remain and the surface will be identical to the new surfaced trails in the park.
Mountain biker Pete Shrimplin, 48, from Eastwood, said: “It’s a great thing for cyclists. The works at Hadleigh are fantastic for the area and will put Hadleigh on the map.
“The path is great for everyone.
It’s not just for hardcore mountain cyclists.
“It’s shared space for walkers, the leisure cyclist and children.
If it means more cyclists, that can only be good.” A county council spokesman said: “Residents have been consulted on all aspects of the redevelopment, including Piggery Lane.
“Piggery Lane is a key trail which will nowalloweasy access for pedestrians, cyclists, people with push chairs, wheelchair users and those with mobility issues.
“The only visual changes will be an improved surface and wider path to accommodate an increase in visitors.
“These minor changes will make the path more accessible, safer and will ensure visitors are able to use it all year round.”
SINCE the Olympics, the Essex Legacy and Active Essex teams at Essex County Council have been working to preserve the sporting legacy.
A number of redevelopments have taken place at Hadleigh country park, preparing for its official opening next March.
In March, work began on a centre at the park which will be the first thing visitors experience when they enter, whether they are cycling, walking, visiting the castle or just exploring the green space.
The hub will host a cafe, bike shop, bike workshop, ranger’s offices and a multiuse classroom.
There will also be a 400- space car park, ensuring easy access for visitors, and an outdoor children’s play area and seating.
As well as the hub, the Olympic mountain bike course is being adapted and maintained for all to use when the park opens next year.