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Bishop's Stortford Town Council to reconsider plans for new BMX track

Aerial shot of Sworder's Field and Castle Mound for Castle Park project. (12697324)
Aerial shot of Sworder's Field and Castle Mound for Castle Park project. (12697324)

Plans for a BMX track for Bishop's Stortford are set to be reviewed by the town council as it ponders more than doubling the budget to £250,000 for a more family-friendly facility.

Members of the council's environment and public amenities committee are to look again at the £105,000 scheme for Sworder's Field, which is in addition to the £2.6m transformation project for Castle Park.

After a long wait, while flooding and environmental concerns were thrashed out, the council has finally secured planning permission from East Herts Council for the facility on a 400 sq m site in the north-east of Sworder's Field, in a currently overgrown area between the Link Road car park and the skate park area.

Experts from track designer Freestyle, who set up the town's skate park, have advised the committee that the current design – for a pump track which is a continuous loop of dirt berms and rollers (smooth dirt mounds) that are ridden without pedalling – is restrictive because it appeals primarily to racers and that an alternative could attract a greater audience with a focus on families.

Town council chief executive James Parker told councillors he recommended issuing a tender to design and build a maintenance-free BMX track, inviting bidders to justify upgrading the current proposals. If a more expensive project was preferred, he warned budget issues might push the project back to 2020-21 unless more funds were assigned.

Despite a BMX track being ranked at number three in priority for leisure improvements when Bishop's Stortford's second Neighbourhood Plan was formulated, Cllr Keith Warnell wanted the principle of the proposals to be reviewed too with further consultation.

"I just wonder if the demand is there," he said. "Before we go out spending that kind of money, I wonder if it's worth taking a pause to reconsider. I want to take a local sounding and see if the world has changed."

Cllr Jill Sortwell said: "Anything that the youth wanted to go to would be great."

Cllr George Cutting agreed: "We should be offering as many activities to youth in the town as we can."

Mr Parker said the new tender process would take at least three months and meanwhile he would consult with other town clerks across the country to see how well-used their BMX tracks were.

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