A massive new cycling event could be coming to County Durham – and it might boost the local economy by as much as £2.7 million.
The closed-road event – whose 100-mile route would take riders through stunning North Pennine countryside – could attract up to 15,000 participants and 40,000 visitors.
County Durham has been invited to co-host the event – entitled Velo North – and the cabinet of Durham County Council will meet next week to decide whether to stage the race. If the cabinet agree, the event would take place in September 2019.
In order to host Velo North, the council would have to approve a budget of £250,000. It is estimated, however, that 80% of those attending the event would be from outside the area. This would lead to more people renting overnight accommodation, resulting in a high visitor spend.
Similar events in other parts of the UK have boosted local economies by as much as £2.7 million.
The centrepiece of Velo North would be a closed-road, 100-mile race through spectacular North Pennine scenery. It would be the only event of this kind to be staged in northern England.
A shorter, 50-mile route would also be on offer and a range of community activities would be put on. Many of these activities would aim to get more people to take up cycling.
Though the exact route hasn’t yet been decided, the organisers hope it will showcase the beautiful and varied landscapes County Durham has to offer. It is thought the route will pass through Durham City and Bishop Auckland and probably start or finish in one of these towns.
The staging of Velo North would coincide with the 2019 Year of Culture campaign. This campaign, approved by the cabinet last month, aims to deliver an enriching programme of arts and sporting events.
Durham County Council’s cabinet member for culture, leisure and rural issues, Cllr Ossie Johnson, said, “This event is an opportunity to show off our beautiful county to a new audience.”
“It would also significantly boost our economy and inspire people to lead a more active and healthy lifestyle.”
“This is just the kind of event we should deliver in County Durham, especially in a year when we are celebrating culture and sport and the benefits they bring.”
To find out more about the 2019 Year of Culture campaign, please visit www.durham.gov.uk/durham19.
Durham County Council’s cabinet will meet on Wednesday 6th February at County Hall to discuss hosting Velo North.
(Featured image courtesy of shirokazan, from Flickr Creative Commons.)