Cheddar 'pump track' approved and new facility could be in place next year

Grant Garge and the Ride Mendips charity at Cheddar skate park in Sharpham Road in 2019.

Grant Garge and the Ride Mendips charity at Cheddar skate park in Sharpham Road in March 2019. - Credit: Archant

Somerset BMXers will soon be able to practice on a new ‘pump track’ after plans were unanimously approved.

Grant Garge, chairman of the Ride Mendips group, applied to create the facility near Cheddar Reservoir, near the village’s rugby club.

More than 1,200 people signed an online petition in favour of the plans, which also attracted the support of Reef band-mates Jack Bessant and Gary Stringer.

Sedgemoor District Council has now green-lit the proposals, meaning the new facility could be in place by early-2022.

The site lies near the existing pavilion, between the skate park and the Sharpham Playing Fields.

Permission was previously granted in August 2020 for an identical facility 75 metres to the south; however, this was deemed unfeasible due to a Bristol Water pipe running through the site.

The pump track consists of a banked circuit with sharp bends, with bike riders using momentum and balance to navigate the course as quickly as possible.

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Ride Mendips said the project would be a huge benefit to young people in the village and encourage the community to get more active.

A spokesman said: “We see this as an fantastic opportunity to provide a safe learning ground for young people to enjoy outdoor exercise and to develop their cycling skills.

“The project has considerable support from the local community and has been supported by the majority of Cheddar Parish Council throughout.”

More than £100,000 has been raised for the project since the track was first proposed by Ride Mendips in December 2018.

The project came before the district council’s development committee when it met in Bridgwater on October 12.

While the parish council have been generally supportive of the scheme, district councillor Paul Fineran said he remained opposed to delivering this scheme on public land.

Speaking before the meeting, he said: “The terms of the lease prevent the building of any structures other than a pavilion here in the interests of retaining green open playing fields.

“Should the application be permitted, it would lead to the urbanisation of green open spaces by the building of tarmacadam roadways on the site.

“Its situation between two live rugby pitches is also likely to lead to potential accidents with balls hitting users of the track – the very reason that the previous track at Cheddar Woods was closed.

“I am sure that this facility could be located in a more suitable location.”

Against Mr Fineran’s objections, the project has received nearly 100 letters of support from local residents, along with the backing of the Fairlands Middle School, the Wessex Learning Trust, the Cheddar Valley rugby and football teams and The Space mental health charity.

In light of this, the committee voted unanimously to approve the plans.

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