A COUNCIL is close to appointing an operator to take on the running of the new £2m athletics facility in Little Marlow.

Wycombe District Council’s Cabinet agreed last night to thrash out the terms of lease with an as-yet unnamed group dubbed Organisation 1.

The authority asked any group interested in taking on the facility to come forward in January - two potential operators were identified with Organisation 1 scoring 86 out of 100 in a subsequent suitability test.

Cllr Tony Green revealed the construction of the running track had now been completed with the infield currently being seeded - but no competition events are expected to take place until summer 2015.

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

The facility is part of the wider £30m project for the new Wycombe Sports Centre.

To make way for the new leisure complex at Handy Cross, new homes had to be found for the old athletics track and astro-turf pitches.

The track, which is on land south of the A4155 Marlow Road at Westhorpe Farm Lane, received fierce objections from residents.

Concerns centred on the perceived inappropriate development of Green Belt land and the impact floodlighting the field will have on residents.

Despite their fears, the centre was approved and construction work began last year.

The artificial pitches have been relocated across to the other side of the A404 Marlow Hill at John Hampden Grammar School.