All-Ireland Velodrome

Oral Answers to Questions – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:45 am on 10th September 2007.

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Photo of Willie Clarke Willie Clarke Sinn Féin 3:45 am, 10th September 2007

5. asked the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure what steps he is taking to assess the potential development of an all-Ireland cycling velodrome based in Newcastle, County Down, or in Belfast.     (AQO 119/08)

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

Sport Northern Ireland is currently managing an elite facilities capital programme on behalf of the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure. On Wednesday 5 September I announced that 15 of the 27 applications received by Sport Northern Ireland and the initial expression-of-interest competition had been assessed as suitable for progression to stage 2.

Three of the applications relate to the potential development of a velodrome, and the proposed sites include Newcastle, Belfast and Newry. A strategic outline business case is being prepared seeking budget approval for the Elite Facilities Capital Programme, and, subject to approval of the business case, the three velodrome applicants, along with the other twelve, will be given three months to prepare an outline business case for their individual projects. Following assessment of those business cases by Sport Northern Ireland, a recommendation will be made to the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure. A further selection process will then take place, and successful applicants from the fifteen will be invited to proceed.

Photo of Willie Clarke Willie Clarke Sinn Féin

Go raibh maith agat, a LeasCheann Comhairle. I thank the Minister for his reply. What measures will he put in place to develop infrastructure for cycling, including mountain biking?

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

The development of a velodrome, which would be hugely significant for cycling, was identified as a priority in the ISNI bid for the development of elite facilities. With regard to mountain biking and other aspects of cycling, my Department recently wrote to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to open up discussion on the use of its facilities for cycling, because we have some wonderful assets in Northern Ireland for such activity and we would like to make full use of those resources.

Photo of Lord Wallace Browne Lord Wallace Browne DUP

I welcome the fact that Belfast is through to the next stage of the competition for the design of the velodrome. The proposal for Belfast is more innovative than the others, because the design is not only for a cycling track but for a multi-purpose facility that can accommodate other sports such as judo, boxing and table tennis. However, the question is: how much money will be available for the Elite Facilities Capital Programme? The site identified in east Belfast would be the most cost effective, as much of the necessary infrastructure is already in place.

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

I thank the Member for his bid. I am not sure whether he had anything to do with filling in the application form, but I understand that it was well completed, so perhaps he did have something to do with it.

The velodrome will be built in County Down, because the proposed site in Belfast is also on the County Down side of the city. Having said that, we will consider all the applications and they will be judged fairly, on merit and on value for money. Fifty-three million pounds has been set aside in the investment strategy to deliver the velodrome, but that figure is still to be finally negotiated with the Department of Finance and Personnel. Ultimately, the swimming pool will be the first project to receive funding from ISNI, and North Down Borough Council will work up a plan for the delivery of that project. Those decisions will come further down the line.

Photo of William Hay William Hay Speaker

Question 6 has been withdrawn.