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New Life Shines for Dorking’s Neglected BMX Track

Published on: 12 Mar, 2021
Updated on: 14 Mar, 2021

Damage caused by off-road vehicles in the Surrey Hills. Image: Surrey Hills

By Julie Armstrong

local democracy reporter

The neglected Ranmore BMX track near Dorking faces a makeover this summer, if Trail Academy gets the go-ahead to take over.

The Surrey Hills-based company, which operates guided rides and off-road biking courses at Dorking’s Belmont School, is keen to invest in the track.

On March 9, Mole Valley District Council’s scrutiny committee recommended leasing the site to Trail Academy to maintain an improved bike park offering a range of ability trails, with hopes to open in August.

Cllr David Draper, deputy leader and cabinet member for leisure at Mole Valley District Council (MVDC), said: “I believe this is a positive step forward which can only improve an increasingly popular recreational activity for all age groups, and would bring people into Dorking.

“They are a well-established group who’ve got a proven track record of running such an activity over time. They would develop the site, make it far more adventurous and certainly more sound and safe, at their own cost.”

The site would be staffed seven days a week and fenced off to deter anti-social behaviour.

The track was built on disused allotment land at Ranmore Road in 2003 by MVDC in partnership with the Mole Valley Cycling Forum.

But it is plagued by people driving motorised quad bikes, which has increased during the lockdowns of the last year.


Off-road vehicles are prohibited throughout the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), unless on an open byway.

Inspector Vinny Wagjiani, borough police commander, said: “We’re aware of the worst-affected areas, Ranmore Common included, and we patrol regularly to intercept off-road vehicles and reassure local people.”

Cllr Draper (Lib Dem, Dorking North), said: “We now regularly have motorbikes and a quad bike using the facility, which is inevitably both frightening to younger users as well as destructive of the park surface.”

 

The BMX track is also expensive for the council to maintain, some tracks now badly overgrown and closed.

Cllr Draper added: “Over the past 18 years, the BMX track and off-road bike trail has perhaps been what I’d describe as one of the hidden secrets of Mole Valley.

“It’s been cared for, especially by volunteers, but sadly has fallen into a difficult time. For some years, we’ve not been able to undertake the high-level maintenance this bike park requires and it has both deteriorated and in places it is perhaps dangerous.”

Users of the new bike park would have to pay a fee. But the committee said there would need to be a discounted rate for families on a low income.

“We are assured and we have it in print that there will have a special rate for anyone on benefits, as well as having quite good pricing for children after school who are local and want to come in,” Cllr Draper added.

“It’s designed for the community and we will make sure the funding is one that is little more than a cup of coffee for some of the children.”

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