Hawick could become hub for BMX enthusiasts

Ben Wilson and Keith Irving at the old tennis courts in Wilton Park Lodge, Hawick where they are hoping a bike track can be given the go ahead.
Ben Wilson and Keith Irving at the old tennis courts in Wilton Park Lodge, Hawick where they are hoping a bike track can be given the go ahead.

A £250,000 skateboard, mountain bike and BMX track planned for Hawick’s Wilton Lodge Park could prove a magnet for enthusiasts from far and wide, according to the group hoping to get it built.

Next week, members of Hawick’s common good fund sub-committee will consider a £4,200 grant application to fund a feasibility study and design plan for a world-class facility on the site of the park’s existing tennis courts.

The Hawick Community Pump Track group was formed in September 2015 with the aim of transforming the land into a free-for-use site good enough to attract bike enthusiasts from both near and far.

The group is made up of people committed to creating an urban bike skills track in the park.

The track would accommodate skateboards, scooters, inline skates and bikes, and the group has already secured a 20-year lease on the site from Scottish Borders Council.

Club secretary Ben Wilson, a mountain biker who coaches at the town’s high school, said the group had received a quote of £250,000 to Tarmac the site and create grass areas within it.

But Mr Wilson, 23, admits that figure is at the “top end” of the scale and will depend on how much funding the group attracts and the ongoing state of the economy.

He said: “The project will be tailored to the amount of money we get in at the end of the day, but if it is built to the standard we want, the town would attract mountain bikers from Glentress, Newcastleton and beyond.

“This will be a landmark project, and it will be a facility that is free of charge, open 24 hours a day and not locked.

“If the town gets the proposed caravan park, then the track would work alongside that to attract people who stay there. It would work both ways.

“We plan to hold various events on the track.

“I’m a coach, and we have three coaches on the committee, and we will be organising coaching sessions.

“The park has already secured major Heritage Lottery Fund money to restore it, and the creation of a pump track will develop an unused area which has fallen into a state of disrepair.

“We require funding to create the necessary design plans to enable consultation with the local community and progress further with the project.”

Mr Wilson says the track will promote cycling among children and young people, deter anti-social behaviour and make productive use of a vacant space.

Velosolutions UK has been approached to design the track and has pledged to “produce a world-class facility for the community” and provided three costings for the track, based on three different sizes of development.

Company spokesman Edd Wright said: “Velosolutions takes pride in creating the best pump tracks in the world and has pioneered the concept of full asphalt tracks in various countries and environments.

“We would really value the opportunity to work at Hawick and produce a world-class facility for the community.”

The project is being backed by Derick Tait, chairman of the Future Hawick regeneration group.

In a report to next week’s committee meeting, he says: “The project would give a boost to the town, both as a visitor attraction and facility for use by the local community.

“In a town which suffers social deprivation, this is a chance for the local community to take ownership of a community space and develop it for the town.

“With Hawick within easy reach of the many cycling trails at Glentress, Newcastleton, and Kielder, a pump track could provide a further attraction to the cycling enthusiast.”