Plans for a Closed Road Cycling Circuit at Pembrey Country Park are racing ahead.
Planning consent for the purpose-built 1.9km circuit has been granted and the contract for construction awarded to GD Harries & Sons Ltd with work starting this week.
The council’s Executive Board Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism Cllr Peter Hughes-Griffiths said he was delighted work was starting.
“This is a really exciting project which supports our aspiration for Carmarthenshire to become the cycling hub of Wales,” he said. “The council’s cycling strategy sets out its objectives to improve infrastructure, develop opportunities particularly for young people, and support events.
“The circuit will provide a safe, traffic-free environment for coaching and training and will be used to stage competitive cycling competitions and recreational activities as well as other sports such as triathlon and athletics.
“It will be of British cycling standard with a 6m wide, tarmac surface of varying gradients and bends, and will be the best in Wales – if not the UK – attracting local, regional and national events, races and training camps.
“Pembrey Country Park is the perfect location for the circuit, it will boost our already growing tourism economy attracting yet more people to the county who will stay and spend in the area as well as increasing park income through entrance fees, caravan and camping stays.”
It is hoped the facility will help develop local young talent and encourage people into sport and more active, healthier lifestyles.
Welsh Cycling Chief Executive Anne Adams-King said: “We know that purpose-built facilities increase the numbers participating regularly in sport in the community setting, and that this is key to behaviour change that lead to healthier lifestyles. In addition to increasing opportunities for physical activity, a dedicated facility would be an asset to community clubs, bring with it dozens of volunteer roles in clubs and community groups. Volunteering is known to improve wellbeing, community cohesion, and is an indicator within the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, alongside sport and physical activity. It would also bring with it opportunities to develop other activities, including athletics, triathlon and Nordic skiing.
“The circuit will also provide a key resource for talent development. Cycling, like any other sport, needs to provide opportunities at grass roots level for children and young people, enabling them to continue on the talent pathway and even onto elite level, via our sport pathway.
“We have a strong team of 20 riders who are currently competing at this year’s Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast, Australia, most of whom are young riders representing Wales for the very first time, including former Towy Riders club members Manon Lloyd, Jess Roberts and Joe Holt. We have seen great progression amongst the younger riders during the last four years; and we are confident that introducing more and more facilities like the closed road circuit at Pembrey will give young people the opportunity to progress and display the depth of sporting talent Wales has to offer.”
It is also good news for local cycling clubs; Bynea Cycling Club secretary Alan Smith said: “The new Pembrey road circuit will be the perfect venue and location for new cyclists to improve their cycling skills in a safe environment. The circuit will be used for training and racing which will be of benefit to experienced cyclists who may just want to ride sportives a little quicker all the way to the international and professional cyclists in south west Wales who will use the circuit to prepare for their competitions. Bynea Cycling Club look forward to supporting this fantastic facility.”
Roger Bowen from locally-based Amigo Cycling Club has also welcomed the facility: “This circuit will provide safe off-road cycling for the starter and experienced cyclist alike. With the links to the coastal path and the other cycle networks around Pembrey, Burry Port, Kidwelly and Llanelli it should greatly benefit the cycling community of Carmarthenshire.”
The council has allocated capital funding of £500,000 towards the circuit, with support from Welsh Cycling and Sport Wales.
The construction of the circuit, at the site of the former Royal Ordnance Factory, is expected to take approximately eight weeks, with a summer opening date. GD Harries was also the company that recently refurbished the historic velodrome at Carmarthen Park.