Peterborough athletics club “not informed” of plans to move track prior to Embankment masterplan exclusion

Peterborough and Nene Valley Athletics Club (PANVAC) has said that it was not informed of plans to relocate the running track prior to the Embankment masterplan being revealed last month.

Monday, 6th December 2021, 6:07 am
Athletics action at the Embankment athletics track.

The athletics track, just off Bishop’s Road and on the Embankment, did not feature in any of the four options put forward in the public consultation, led by Barton and Willmore.

When approached for comment by the Peterborough Telegraph, the firm explained that the options had been created under the assumption that the track could move to free up space for further developments.

They did, however, state that they would use the public feedback to assess the desire for the track’s inclusion in the masterplan and that they were in “ongoing dialogue” with PANVAC.

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This has now been denied by the club, who insist that they were not consulted in advance about the track moving, nor have they been given any indication as to future sites or when any move could happen.

The site was first constructed in 1962 and in the height of summer months has over 2000 individual usages. It is the only track in Cambridgeshire that is of the standard to host national league meetings, the next closest is over an hour away in Bedford. The club’s committee met on Thursday (December 2) and has now issued the following response to the consultation.

A statement from the committee reads: “Members of my committee were told when they attended the exhibition following the public consultation that the track was to be moved and as such was not to form a part in the brief to the consultants. We were not informed of this before this event. We have written to the ChiefExecutive of the Peterborough City Council requesting information about this decision.

“Our club does not support or agree to any of the options made as there is no provision for the track in the consultation area. Our position is that we would oppose any development which directly or indirectly affects our use of the track and which in any way uses land on the current track site. We wish to remain where we are.

“This does not mean that we approve of any other development on the Embankment. Our members have been encouraged to make their own observations to the consultation. We are happy to discuss matters with the PCC particularly when we have an explanation as to their actions. We are also happy to discuss with the University PUFC and the consultants.

“The Embankment Athletics Track Bishop’s Road Peterborough PE1 5BW was opened in May 1962.It is covenanted fields protected in perpetuity with Fields in Trust. The track has developed into a good facility. It is self-contained and is screened and sheltered with mature trees. The track site has the potential to be an excellent facility. The addition of a spectator stand and an indoor training area would enhance the site. The provision of an additional throwing area would further upgrade the facility.

“The track is the only publicly available fully operational track in Cambridgeshire which has a UK Athletics Track Mark allowing it to be used by UK Athletics to stage athletic competitions under its rules with an appropriate permit at National League level. The nearest track of a similar status is Bedford otherwise others are over 60 miles away.

“The Embankment Track Bishop’s Road Peterborough is the home of PANVAC- an amalgamation in October 2019 of Peterborough Athletic Club (PAC) and Nene Valley Harriers (NVH). Both clubs have used the site. In the case of PAC since 1962 and jointly with NVH from 1978. The joint membership on amalgamation was just over 600. The covid lockdowns and restrictions impacted strongly on membership which dropped significantly, but is now recovering to just over 400 and is increasing.

“Apart from PANVAC the track is also used by The Greater Peterborough Athletic Network Warriors (a group of young athletes registered with Huntingdonshire AC) The Clarion Cycling Club a disabled cycling group a young boxing group, local schools and other ad hoc users.

“There are between 800 and 1000 individual usages from these groups weekly during the winter months and double this figure during the summer months with increased school use athletic events and training numbers during the competitive season.

“PANVAC provides athletic training for all track and field events, cross country and road running. This is for all age groups from under 11 to masters over 70. We have a disabled group. The bulk of our membership is in the younger age groups (u/17). We also cater for many recreational athletes and runners who do not wish to compete but wish to keep fit.

“We have provided a fitness outlet for many thousands of local youngsters and residents over the years. The club has recruited trained coached athletes from all walks of life and communities with some competing at national and international level including Commonwealth European Olympic and Para Olympic Games. We have provided good sporting fitness and specialist training in Peterborough for decades. We have not received any grants, awards or external financial assistance in relation to our work with youngsters.

“PANVAC is a volunteer organisation administered by a general committee. Our coaches, event officials and club officers are all unpaid volunteers and we are affiliated to UK Athletics England Athletics Eastern Athletics and Cambridgeshire AA. The club competes in the National Athletic League Southern Athletic League Eastern Young Athletes League Eastern Masters league and other local leagues. We stage regular league and other championship events at the track. The club has also hosted national area and regional events.

“It is a major mistake to propose moving the track, We have not been told to where or when such a move will take place. The whole process will have to be seamless.”

The latest consultation process ended on Friday (December 3) with a preferred option expected to be revealed in January.

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