SOUTHEND could get an outdoor velodrome, the Echo can reveal.

Plans are being drawn up for the open air cycling facility on the border of Southend and Rochford.

Former Southend Councillor Adam Jones is spearheading the project and says the town has a huge number of cycling fans.

Mr Jones, a keen cyclist himself, said: “The idea came about this time last year when I went to see the Tour de France pass through Chelmsford.

Stepping among the crowds, I realised there was a big appetite for cycling that I hadn’t previously understood.

“I thought we ought to tap into this, particularly in the post 2012 Olympic era, and look at what we could do to improve the opportunity to take up cycling in Essex.

“A council officer is looking into the feasibility of it after which we will look at getting funding and support.”

Mr Jones added: “We’d need quite a large parcel of land to build the 250- metre track, which would be the size of a football stadium.

“We have contacted Rochford District Council about becoming partners in the project and looking at areas on the border of Southend and Rochford.

“The authority has quite a bit of land as part of their property portfolio.

“The British Cycling Federation’s policy is to have regional centres so if we built a velodrome it would be the east Anglian region centre which would attract talented cyclist and make it a centre of excellence and attract funding. An open velodrome would cost in the region of £1million which in the scheme of things is not a huge amount.

A closed one would cost a lot more.

“If we can find the land quickly we could start it within a year. Local cycling clubs like the Southend Wheelers are producing talented track riders and this will give them the opportunity to train here instead of going to Dulwich to train as they do now.”

Graham Longley, councillor responsible for enterprise, tourism and economic development, said: “Such a sporting facility would be beneficial to residents but as an authority we have to prioritise and at the moment we are concentrating on the new museum and on improving the pier so I don’t think it will happen overnight.

“I am as positive about it as I am of any sport but we have had a meeting and are at the stage of talking to people to see what the possibilities are.”

Mike Steptoe Rochford councillor responsible for enterprise said: “The matter is under discussion with officers at Rochford District Council at the moment.”