YORK is to get its first-ever velodrome in the year the opening stages of the Tour de France come to the city.

City of York Council’s planning committee has approved plans by the University of York for a £1 million hard-surface cycling facility – the only one of its kind in Yorkshire – at the York Sport Village site at Heslington. It is set to open by the end of the year.

The Olympic-length track will be open to the public and sit alongside a one-kilometre road cycling circuit which opened last year. Work is expected to start next month, with British Cycling providing part of the funding for the Lakeside Way velodrome.

Keith Morris, the university’s head of sport, said he hoped the project would reinforce the reputation of the Sport Village and of cycling in the city as it prepares to welcome the Tour de France’s curtain-raiser, the Grand Départ. The second day of the Départ will start in York on July 6.

He said: “With the support of British Cycling, we are committed to building on the success of our floodlit road cycling circuit which opened last year, and is used widely by cycling clubs and members of the public as well as university students and staff.”

The 250-metre long, seven-metre wide oval track will have banks at each end and floodlights allowing it to be used between 8am and 10pm.

The only other velodrome in Yorkshire and the north east is a grass-covered track at Richmondshire Cricket Club, which has limited use for evening meetings. The York facility will be used between May and September.

Sport England, while supporting the scheme, had asked for a community use agreement to be set in stone so the velodrome can be used by cycling clubs and residents.

It said York playing a part in staging the Grand Départ had increased local interest in having “modern, accessible cycling facilities” which would help ensure “a sporting legacy” for the city.

The land where the velodrome will be built was originally intended to be the city’s new athletics track, but the existing track at the nearby Heslington West campus will now be upgraded instead and a planning application for this scheme has been submitted.