Pedal Park cycle dream scrapped for RAF Coltishall to become tech hub

Neil Turner and Simon Elliott of Pedal Revolution in what will be the club house at the former RAF C

Neil Turner and Simon Elliott of Pedal Revolution in what will be the club house at the former RAF Coltishall site where the new PedalPark will be set up with a track around the airfield.PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

It was billed as the biggest traffic-free cycle track in Europe – but the brakes have been put onto a vision for a Pedal Park at RAF Coltishall after a strategic review of the site.

The idea for a cycling hub at the Scottow Enterprise Park, using a three-mile perimeter track at the former RAF base, has been floated for more than a year.

Planning permission was granted for the owners of bike shop Pedal Revolution to transform the track into a cycling venue in June, and they have plunged £50,000 into getting the concept off the ground.

Delays in securing a lease meant the launch event for the park, due for May 8, had to be abandoned, and a potential £75,000 grant from Sport England was missed.

And following a 'pilot' test for the Pedal Park in July and the recent review of the asset, the plan has been rejected in favour of creating a new business park focused on science, technology, engineering and manufacturing.

In November 2015, Scottow Enterprise Park was designated as one of 10 locations to form a new enterprise zone – with the aim of attracting 18,500 jobs over a 25-year period.

Co-owner of Pedal Revolution Neil Turner has said he intends to lodge an official complaint over the handling of the prospective tenancy.

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In a letter to Mr Turner, Neil Coward, managing director of Hethel Innovation Ltd, said Pedal Park would 'not fit' within Scottow as a business park.

'A further underlying concern is that as the proposed tenancy use of Pedal Park falls outside of the agreed planning constraints – agreed with the MOJ (Ministry of Justice) at the time of purchase – clawback would be triggered, thus making the proposal unviable for either party,' he wrote.

Mr Turner said teething issues from the pilot would have been resolved, and that he felt he had been 'strung along'.

'The building we were going to take is outside the enterprise zone, and we were going to spend between £70,000 and £100,000 refurbishing it,' he said.

'We have written a visitor management plan, and even in their own report from the pilot there are things to improve but generally it went well.

'This could have generated them money alongside everything else they want to do.

'Instead they want to put all their eggs in one basket of creating another technology park.

'We had the support of Sports England, British Cycling and Active Norfolk. We feel like we have been strung along for a year.

'For more than 12 months our business has been put on hold. This has hurt us but we are going to survive it.

'For us the key is we still do not understand why they can't have their cake and eat it.

'In their chosen strategy of turning a derelict airfield into a high-tech business park they are completely ignoring the assets they have got.'

A spokesman for Norfolk County Council, landowners of the site, said: 'The strategic review of Scottow Enterprise Park has now been completed, and members of the working party, which is accountable for the site, have agreed that it should be developed for the future as a hub which is specifically focused on supporting science, technology, and engineering (STEM) businesses.'

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