Maindy Velodrome protestors hope Charity Commission will ride to their rescue

Campaigners oppose plan to demolish Maindy Velodrome and relocate it to Cardiff Bay

PROTESTORS have welcomed the Charity Commission’s decision to look into Cardiff Council’s proposal to demolish Maindy Velodrome and use the site to expand Cathays High School.

Speaking to a group of over 100 people at Saturday’s ‘Day of Action’ at the velodrome, protestor Christine Wyatt, 49, announced: “We’ve been in touch with the Charity Commission and they’re going to be investigating Cardiff Council’s request.”

The velodrome is built on land that was gifted to the people of Cardiff by Lord Bute in 1922. Cardiff Council is the sole trustee of the site and needs to apply for consent from the Charity Commission to change the purpose of it.

In a letter to the Charity Commission, Ms Wyatt says: “Cardiff Council needs to have the Charity land released from its current purpose so that a new school can be built on the land. How they have managed this clear conflict of interest is not clear, and is not at all transparent how this has been done, or indeed, whether it has been done it all.”

In a reply to the letter, The Charity Commission referred to the council’s application to change the use of the land at Maindy Park and confirmed the authority has applied for consent.

The Charity Commission’s intervention was announced at Saturday’s ‘Day of Action’

The council’s plan to demolish the velodrome was left until page 33 in the Cathays High School consultation earlier this year (see here): 

‘The construction of new facilities for Cathays High School will take place on the Maindy Centre site and potentially on a proportion of the existing site.’ 

The most recent indicative site layout (see right)provided by the council shows their plans building on the majority of the site.  

The current Maindy Velodrome is 460m, with British Cycling’s ruling that its size allows for up to 40 cyclists on freewheel bikes and 30 cyclists using fixed-wheel bikes when competing. The club says up to 60 cyclists can use the track for training, depending on the qualification level of the coach.

The council’s proposed new velodrome in the Sports Village is 333m, with track capacity set to be cut by nearly a third. 

Renata Mirra, 43, is part of the Save the Velodrome committee and organised Saturday’s protest. She said: “The council are giving this community a choice between a high school or an amazing historic sports facility.  

“And that is not a fair choice. It’s perfectly okay to demand a good high school and keep the velodrome as well.” 

Ant Warland, 31, who founded the ‘Save Maindy Velodrome!’ Facebook group, highlighted the opposition that has been present since the plans to demolish and relocate the velodrome were first unveiled.  

He said: “Objections to the statutory notice went in; the council ignored 425 objections and the petition with over 4,000 signatures and approved the expansion of the planning stage.”

The historic track was built for the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1958 and has been home to the Maindy Flyers Cycling Club since 1995. Other groups and sports clubs also use the facilities which have been used for a variety of activities such as triathlon events and road safety training.

Maindy Flyers and other cycling groups’ support for the new velodrome at the International Sports Centre rests upon whether there is also a closed road loop circuit to allow cyclists to train on a traffic-free track outside the velodrome.

The council have applied for planning permission (see here), which does not include a closed road loop circuit that almost all cycling clubs have insisted on. 

Earlier this year the campaign attracted the support of Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas, who used the track as a junior, and Chris Hoy.  

Gabalfa’s Liberal Democrat councillors Rhys Taylor and Ashley Wood both spoke at the protest.

Coun Wood said: “Cardiff Council should respect residents’ views to deliver both a new school and protect our cycle track rather than depriving our community of a valued resource in an area where we’re losing things constantly to the bay – one of the most inaccessible parts of the city.”

A Cardiff Council spokesperson said: “The council has made an application to the commission for a change of use to the land. This has been done in the proper way, through the proper channels, and the commission is reviewing that application as it would any other.

“We look forward to hearing from the commission once it has considered the application in full.”