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Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Velodrome plan for Ruthin 'no longer achievable'


* An artist's impression of how the velodrome could have looked. (Image DCC)

After months of planning and commitment from Welsh Cycling, Sport Wales, Ruthin Town Council and Denbighshire Leisure Ltd (DLL), it has been agreed collectively that the Ruthin Velodrome project will no longer be proceeding. 

The plans would have seen the first Velodrome in North Wales, along with providing a transformative project for the town; providing health, financial and educational benefits as well as more opportunities for the young people of Ruthin and the wider county of Denbighshire. 

In 2020, in response to a Welsh Cycling invitation for expressions of interest, Ruthin Town Council (RTC) was selected as the preferred partner for the Welsh Cycling, North Wales, Outdoor Velodrome project. 

Then in March 2021, following a detailed feasibility study, Ruthin Town Council in partnership with Welsh Cycling and Denbighshire Leisure Ltd (DLL) agreed to progress the project at the then preferred location, of Ysgol Brynhyfryd. 

Following further feasibility work and business plan proposals, a formal funding application was made to Sport Wales in Feb 2022 resulting in a Sport Wales £2m grant approved in March 2022 and an additional offer of £300k grant was made in August 2023, in response to increased estimated project costs. 

After many months of design work and consultation with stakeholders, the final detailed scheme was approved in December 2023. 

However, the partners in the project say that pricing schedule showed a significant funding gap between the resources available for the project and the required contract sum, mainly attributable to "unprecedented levels of inflation" in the construction industry. 

A statement issued through DLL says: "At the December Project Board Meeting it was reported that the capital cost of the scheme was over budget, with this sum likely to increase again if any adverse planning, or sustainable drainage conditions were applied to the development consents. 

"Costs would also further increase due to the time it would take to get the project to site after the necessary statutory planning stages. Therefore, despite all the efforts, it has been decided to cease the project as the required funding continues to increase beyond the available budget."

Graham Boase, Chief Executive of Denbighshire County Council, said: “We’ve supported this business case from the beginning, unfortunately the current climate has meant we are unable to help get this project over the line. 

"All stakeholders have worked extremely hard to bring this project to fruition and we are fully supportive of future projects and we welcome the opportunity to work with Sport Wales to prioritise this funding into North Wales projects.”

Owen Hathway, Assistant Director at Sport Wales, said: “It is disappointing that despite all-parties best continued efforts, the development of the proposed velodrome in Ruthin has been deemed no longer feasible. We thank all of those involved for exhausting all possible options to try and avoid this outcome. Sport Wales remains committed to investing into the sport infrastructure in North Wales. 

"In conversation with the Welsh Government our aim is that the money that had been awarded to this project is both retained for investment in sport and preferably ringfenced for the North Wales region, while we explore other opportunities in the area, including with Welsh Cycling as the National Governing Body.”

Jamie Groves, Managing Director of DLL, said: “As a board, we agreed to pursue a number of actions in order to give this project every opportunity possible, recognising the importance of the new facility to both Ruthin and more broadly, the whole of Denbighshire. Regrettably, despite best efforts and endeavours by all concerned the project appears to be out of our reach. 

"Taking everything into consideration, it is with a heavy heart that the project board bring the project to a close and the balance of the grant will be returned to Sports Wales to provide every opportunity for sports projects (or indeed a cycling project) to be delivered elsewhere in North Wales.”

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