CORONAVIRUS has delayed the opening of a new multi-million sports park in Colchester.

The Colchester Northern Gateway Sports Park was scheduled to open in January next year.

But Colchester Council has now said the curtain will not be raised on the £28.7million development until Easter, to ensure it is safe for residents and visitors.

The new facility will include a one-mile floodlit cycle track consisting of six loops.

The track, with provisions for cycling for people with disabilities and also for those with special needs, will provide leisurely cyclists a safe space to ride their bikes, whilst providing serious cyclists with a facility to challenge themselves and to improve.

The 76-acre site, located off the A12, also features a multi-use sports centre, indoor cricket, a fitness suite, exercise and cycle studios, a new state-of-the-art rugby facility that will become the new home of Colchester Rugby Football Club, two all-weather pitches, additional grass pitches and an archery range.

The authority's commercial servies boss Theresa Higgins (Lib Dem) said she hoped there would be less coronavirus restrictions by then.

"We cannot wait to welcome each and every one of you to the Northern Gateway Sports Park, but we don’t want the opening of Colchester’s newest attraction overshadowed by the risk of Covid-19.

“Though all council facilities are Covid-secure, we have taken the decision, with a heavy heart, to reschedule the opening until Easter 2021, in the hope that the worse of this terrible pandemic will have passed.”

In a statement, the rugby club confirmed the move to their new home away from their current ground in Mill Road had been delayed.

"We were originally informed that the new clubhouse and facilities would be made available to us in November, allowing us to take full occupation and open in the New Year, however, we were informed by the council at the end of last week, that for a number of reasons we will not be able to take occupation until Easter of next year.

"This was not what we wanted to hear, although given the current situation it is obviously still unclear when we could hold any type of function, including lunches, with a decent amount of people."