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Countdown on to running track opening
THE first athletes to use the new £1.5million running track at Little Marlow will be able to get their running shoes on next week.
The new facility at Westhorpe Park will be formally handed over to its provider, the Adventure Learning Foundation, on Tuesday, July 1.
Council bosses and community groups in Little Marlow were given a sneak preview of the track - which also includes long and triple jump pits, pole vault run and a discus and hammer cage - on Saturday.
The reaction was cautiously positive, after residents had raised concerns over the impact floodlights would have on neighbours.
Wycombe District Council approved plans to build the track at Little Marlow in December 2012 after planning officers said restrictions on developing green belt could be overcome.
Dallas Banfield, chairman of Little Marlow Parish Council, said the authority hadn't initially welcomed the plans and said: "Now we've seen it, it doesn't change our view."
But he added: "What they have done is superb and we welcome it. All in all we're very impressed with what we've seen.
"But until the autumn we're not going to see how it all works. One would hope it wouldn't be a problem. By and large it's pretty unobtrusive - we'll see how it works."
The track's eight lanes are green instead of the traditional red to blend in with its surroundings, while the floodlights have a brightness level of 100 lux - well below the usual 400 lux.
They are retractable down to 4.5m when not in use - making it the first public track in the country to have them - and restrictions mean they cannot be used after 9pm.
Mike Overall, chairman of the Little Marlow Lakes Country Park Partnership, said he was pleased the Adventure Learning Foundation has been appointed as the management contractor for the track.
He said: "We know ALF well, through their management of the nearby Longridge site, and are delighted that an organisation so dedicated to developing activities for young people will have a strong presence in the Little Marlow Lakes area. We look forward to working closely with them."
New pathways and cycle paths will also be built as part of the development of the site, while a pre-existing barn has been converted to contain the changing rooms.
Charles Brocklehurst, major projects and estate executive at Wycombe District Council, said: "I'm thrilled with it. It's turned out even better than we could have expected.
"The whole thing sits quite naturally, which is what we hoped to achieve.
"It's a great improvement on Handy Cross, which was tired and dominated by the motorway.
He added the council will make sure ALF will "honour their commitment" to ensuring light and noise from the track does not negatively impact on residents.
The new track conforms to international standard, but no competitive events are scheduled to take place there until next summer.
Please email the ALF foundation directly at email@example.com with details of any booking requests.