Lincolnshire Wolds Cycle Park in South Willingham approved

Lincolnshire’s first off-road cycle park has been approved with the promise to bring enjoyment of the Wolds to a new demographic.

The 100-acre Wolds Cycle Park will be built in the Hainton Estate, near South Willingham.

The major environmentally-friendly attraction would draw visitors from miles around, according to applicant.

Hundreds of cyclists from Lincolnshire and beyond had backed the plans, but there were also large numbers of objections from local residents.

Villagers were concerned about how much traffic it might create in the Wolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The proposals were been submitted by Louth-based Lincs Design Consultancy, with Focus Rides to run the cycle park.

The landowner Christopher Heneage told East Lindsey’s planning committee: “The AONB is a living, working landscape which needs to evolve in order to support local communities.

“I’m not a fly-by-night developer. My family has lived and worked in the Wolds for centuries, and would never let it come to harm.

“The tracks would be spread over 100 acres, giving you a feeling that you’re cycling in the great outdoors.

“It would be extremely low-impact. The tracks would have less of an effect than a typical farm track.”

The planning committee were quick to back the scheme.

Councillor Billy Brooks said: “This is a major opportunity to allow the Wolds to be opened to more people and attract a new demographic.

“Disruption will be pretty well contained – these aren’t motorbikes whizzing around, they will be push-bikes on tracks.”

Councillor Helen Matthews agreed, saying: “I understand the impact it will have on South Willingham, but the AONB is a working place that should be enjoyed by all.

“This will be low-impact, create jobs and offer a unique development. We should be supporting projects like this.”

It is predicted to create around 20 jobs, and will include an eco-friendly visitors’ centre.

The committee heard concerns about the volume of traffic it could generate.

Ward member Councillor Richard Fry warned that the “narrow and dangerous roads are better suited to walkers and cyclists than hundreds of cars.”

Shirley Asquith, the clerk of South Willingham Parish Council, added that residents were overwhelming against the plans when they were polled.

“Imagine you had found that an attraction bringing 100 cars per day was planned half a mile from your home, with many of them passing your front door,” she said.

It took just five minutes of debate before councillors voted to approve the plans.

There were three abstentions and no objections.