Proposed Bike Track at Goldsmiths Rec

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A planning application has been submitted by Crowborough Town Council for a children’s bike “Pump Track” at Goldsmiths Recreation Ground.

Google Map showing proposed location (shown in red) at Goldsmiths Recreation Ground

Two members of the public approached the Council back in 2017 about the idea of a track to enable younger children to learn to ride their bikes in a safe environment (see the original Pump Track article). Originally they suggested the track be included in Walshes Park at Alderbrook.

One of the men, Adam Mart who lives nears Goldsmiths Rec, recently told Crowborough Life:

Currently, Crowborough has no appropriate, dedicated or safe facility, designed specifically for children of up to secondary school age, to learn and enjoy the life skill of riding a bike.

As recent events have demonstrated, being outside in the fresh air is vital to our mental and physical wellbeing, and this is especially true as we actively seek to encourage the health and happiness of our children.

This application for a community bike track hopes to help serve that need, and provide a facility to be enjoyed by the children of Crowborough for many years to come.

Adam Mart

A Pump Track is an undulating circuit of hills and banked turns, that can be ridden without the use of pedals with riders “pumping” – generating momentum by up and down body movements. The bike tracks were originally designed for the BMX scene, but are now also commonly used by skateboarders and scooters.

These photos from Velosolutions, illustrating a similar children’s bike track in a school playground at Bern in Switzerland, are included with the planning application:

Velosolutions Pump Track Walkringen, Switzerland

Below is a promotional video from the company showing a wide-variety of pump tracks and bike parks (please note it includes advanced features, which there are no plans to construct in Crowborough):

A number of Town Councillors visited a BMX cycle track at Southwood Road Recreation Ground in Rusthall to gain a better understanding of what was being proposed (see here for a video of the opening of the Rusthall track). This track, made from piles of compacted earth, was constructed at a modest cost to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council of £4,450.

A site between the play park and High Cross Fields was initially earmarked for the track at Goldsmiths Rec. At the time a number of local residents expressed their concerns regarding noise levels if teenagers were to use the track in the evening.

This year, the Council’s planning consultant expressed their concern that the location might be considered too close to neighbouring properties and a noise assessment would be required. In May councillors considered alternative locations (including to the South of the Skate Park in the field used for the Summer Fair). The committee agreed that an area between the play park and the Leisure Centre would be best.

The outline application includes an illustrative design, a Transport Assessment and a Landscape Visual Appraisal. The LVA includes the existing views of the site from various locations within the Recreation Ground and the wider High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, to show the likely impact the bike track would have on the environment.

This illustrative layout has been submitted. It shows there there is potential to provide two separate tracks to enable children with a range of abilities to benefit. One would be a simple figure of eight and the other could have a more complex layout. The height is likely to be around 1.5 metres. The application explains the surface of the track is likely to be permeable asphalt to help with drainage, and the intention is to put a small fence around the perimeter.

In conclusion the Planning Statement states:

Overall, the proposals for a bike pump track at Goldsmiths will provide an enhancement to the existing facilities at the recreation ground and respond to an identified need. The proposed location is considered to [be] appropriate both in terms of its relationship with other facilities in the grounds and also in visual terms as it will be seen in the context of the existing leisure centre building as set out in the submitted LVA [Landscape and Visual Appraisal].

The transport report states that the bike track is unlikely to significantly increase the demand for parking and there is capacity to accommodate extra vehicles within the existing parking areas.

Funding

In 2019 the Town Council was successful in a National Lottery bid and was awarded £10,000 towards the project. After looking at design options from two suppliers, the Sport, Recreation and Cemetery Committee agreed to use Section 106 money, which are contributions from developers towards the costs of providing community infrastructure. The Council has £34,000 available to pay for a “playspace” from when nine terraced houses were built on the site formerly the Southdown bus depot on Western Road (Ref WD/2011/1854/F).

When the matter was discussed by Full Council this July, Councillors were asked to reject the recommendation from Sport and Recreation Committee, as although Wealden District Council had stated that ‘local area’ was defined as Crowborough, the S106 funds were available as a result of a development in Jarvis Brook and therefore the monies should be spent on play space in that area. However, as most of the recreational space in Jarvis Brook is leased to the Council, Councillors felt it would not be prudent to spend money on land that was rented. Rather they thought land that the Council owned should be used. Goldsmiths is the main and largest recreational facility in Crowborough.

Councillors also decided to progress with an application to Sport England for match funding.

In 2020 the S&R Committee reiterated its commitment to the bike track and Wealden District Council was consulted about obtaining planning permission. By initially obtaining outline planning permission, the Town Council could seek agreement on the principle of the development and the site to be used. They would then be able to go out to tender with an illustrative design, before submitting a reserved matters planning application in order to seek approval on the final details.

It was noted in the Committee’s minutes that construction costs have increased greatly since the project started. This year the Council said that it had up to £86,000 available from S106 monies, grants and Council Tax. However final costs will not be known until a tender is agreed.

Unfortunately however, because of delays in the project because of the pandemic, the Lottery grant has now expired. The Town Council has been told it can reapply next year.

Submit your comments

Members of the public have until 21st September to comment on the application. To see the documents see Children’s Bike Pump Track Ref WD/2021/1925/O.

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