Hadleigh Castle and Country Park(1)September 13 - Hadleigh Castle, which is due to stage mountain biking during the London 2012 Olympics, will remain open after the Games finish after an agreement was reached between the Salvation Army and the Essex County Council.

The site, which overlooks the Thames Estuary, was chosen last year to replace Weald Country Park after the world cycling governing body the UCI ruled that it was not challenging enough for the sport's top riders competing in an Olympics.

Hadleigh was chosen after several venues around the country put themselves forward as an alternative.

The venue, which covers a 550-acre site situated close to the village of Hadleigh, encompasses the outstandingly beautiful grassland and woodland of Hadleigh Farm, land owned by the Salvation Army, and the surrounding countryside of Hadleigh Castle Country Park.

Under the agreement, the Olympic course will be available for use by recreational riders once the Games are finished.

Stephen Castle, Essex County Council’s Cabinet member for the 2012 Games, said: "Essex County Council has always stated its commitment to providing a legacy facility at Hadleigh Farm once the Olympic mountain bike event is over.

"The Olympic event represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to give Essex a world-class sports facility that makes the most of the natural beauty of this part of Essex and remains an asset to the local community long after the 2012 event."

The Olympic course will be set against the stunning backdrop of the 700-year-old ruins of Hadleigh Castle, which is a Grade I listed building and was in during the 1230s during the reign of King Henry III.

Castle has promised that nothing will be done to damage the area.

He said: "The specific detail of the legacy facility will be developed in consultation with local representatives over the coming months, with full regard to the historic and environmental nature of the site.

"Essex County Council is working closely with the Salvation Army and other partners to ensure the maximum benefit will be enjoyed by residents in the long term."

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