A SEARCH is underway to find a group to run the new £2million athletics centre in Little Marlow.

Wycombe District Council is looking for a partner to enter into a service level agreement lasting five years for the operation of the athletics track.

The controversial project to replace the facilities at Wycombe Sports Centre in Handy Cross is due to be completed in late spring.

WDC spokesman Nick Sykes said: "The Council has a strong track record of promoting public involvement and is dedicated to continuing this by transferring the management of its athletics track.

"For the successful applicant, the athletics facility will provide a state of the art, new centre for track and field disciplines within the district.

"The Council fully recognises the importance of the new facility and the role it has to play in building and sustaining local grassroots sporting opportunities.

"The facility provides an excellent platform for local engagement and for achieving the goals of any organisation interested in promoting health and wellbeing."

The new eight-lane track will provide a home for groups including the Wycombe Phoenix Harriers and Bucks Speed Demons athletics club.

Costing around £2m, it is part of a £30m project to revamp Wycombe Sports Centre which is estimated to be complete by 2015.

The development, which is on land south of the A4155 Marlow Road in Little Marlow at Westhorpe Farm Lane received strong objections from nearby residents.

Concerns centre over inappropriate development on Green Belt land and the impact floodlighting the field will have on residents.

Despite the fears, the development was approved and work began last year.

But the building work has raised new concerns, with Little Marlow Parish Council agreeing to write to WDC to complain about the felling of oak trees on the site.

WDC believes that by transferring the track to an external organisation, it will ensure the facilities are used to their maximum potential and benefit the operator as well as sportsmen and women.

The council is asking groups wishing to express an interest to get in touch, with forms available to fill in on its website www.wycombe.gov.uk

As well as welcoming applications from not-for-profit organisations, for profit organisations can also apply but should be aware WDC will not offer a subsidy to cover rates.