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Cycling in Manchester set for big boost as Team GB gear up for the Olympics and Paralympics

cyclists on the velodrome in Manchester

Councillors are being asked to back a major package of work to improve Manchester’s National Cycling Centre.

The velodrome element of the National Cycling Centre was built in 1993 using Government funding. It played a central role in the 2002 Commonwealth Games and has gone on to host a wealth of national and international competitions. The National Cycling Centre was extended in 2010 with the addition of the UK’s first indoor BMX Centre. As the home of British Cycling, it has supported Manchester’s reputation as an international sporting city.  

Crucially, it is also well used by people from across Manchester with more than 100,000 participants in a typical year including a range of programmes for local communities and young people. It is one of the world’s most accessible velodromes – where grassroots cyclists can rub shoulders with elite cyclists. The centre has helped power the city’s enthusiasm for cycling, which sees almost 20 per cent of residents regularly get on their bikes.  

However, it is now 28 years old and condition surveys show that the combination of the volume of use it has had and the number of elements of the build reaching the end of their lifespans means action is required if it is to stay fit for purpose for the next 25+ years and remain the home of British Cycling.  

Investing now will avoid future building failures and unexpected closures or services having to be withdrawn. This will save money in the longer term and ensure that Mancunians can continue to enjoy the facilities. 

The scope of the works includes the full replacement of all the building’s mechanical, electrical and plumbing services – including lighting and ventilation; the installation of air source heat pumps to decarbonise the building’s heating; the full refurbishment of changing rooms; the creation of a new outdoor plant room and replacement of the track barrier. 

It will also see the spectator facilities improved to help the Velodrome secure major events, along with enhancements to British Cycling’s facilities – such as a new performance support centre – to ensure Manchester remains its home, it remains the heart of the sport in this country and the National Cycling Centre continues to nurture world-leading talent. 

The budget for the works - subject to Executive and full Council approval - will be £26m, mostly funded through prudential borrowing but with £2.145m of the cost coming from government funding secured by the Council to support ‘greener’ heating for public buildings. The new air source heat pumps will save 200,000kg of carbon in the first five years alone.  

Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, Executive Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “The National Cycling Centre is an incredible asset for this city – a unique place where Manchester people get to share the same facilities as elite cyclists. As the home of the Great Britain Cycling Team, who we will be cheering on in the Olympics and Paralympics in the coming days, it supports talented individuals to achieve their best on a global stage.  

“It’s essential that we invest in its future now to ensure it can continue to fulfill this role for decades ahead. Failure to act now would risk the loss of some services, the loss of national and international events to rival velodromes, the loss of revenue and an undermining of Manchester’s reputation as a sporting capital.  

“At the same time we are seizing the opportunity to reduce the centre’s carbon footprint, in line with the city’s goal to become zero carbon by 2038, and improve facilities for British Cycling to help them continue to be world-beaters.”  

Brian Facer, Chief Executive of British Cycling, said: “The National Cycling Centre is our home and the beating heart of our sport. It is a tribute to the ambition and vision of Manchester because Britain’s cycling revolution started in what is our home city almost 30 years ago. Without the National Cycling Centre, we would not have been able to produce riders of the calibre of Sir Chris Hoy and Dame Sarah Storey and without the inspiration they, and many others have provided, there would have been no growth in participation with huge numbers across Britain now enjoying riding their bikes for fun, for sport and for transport. 

“This investment will mean Manchester can continue to lead the way for the rest of the country by providing a vital facility where the some of the world’s greatest riders can be supported by a fantastic team to achieve their best. It is also somewhere the people of Manchester can get active by getting on their bikes. Not many of us can play at Wembley but anyone can share the same boards as Laura Kenny and share the same track as Kye Whyte.” 

If approved by the Council’s Executive when it meets on Wednesday 28 July, work will start in September 2021 and complete in early 2023.  


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