BUILDING work has begun on a £5.1million leisure facilities at Hadleigh Country Park as Olympic legacy plans take a major leap forward.

Developer Morgan Sindal has begun construction work on the new facility at the old Sayers Farm, off Chapel Lane, Hadleigh.

It will be home to a cafe, bike workshop and hire shop, ranger’s offices and a classroom.

The building, which will take around 60 weeks to complete, will be used by the 400,000 people expected to visit the park each year once the development is finished.

Ann Naylor, county councillor responsible for health and wellbeing, said: “The plans are all very exciting and will really benefit the park visitors and the local community. We are creating something that is very exciting and offering visitors all the amenities that they need for the perfect day out.”

The centre is at the heart of Essex County Council’s £6.8million proposals to transform the Olympic venue into a top tourist attraction after it hosted the Olympic mountain biking event in August 2012.

PamChallis, leader of Castle Point Council, said: “We were thrilled to host the mountain biking event, the country park was a fantastic venue and all I keep hearing from people is when is this all going to be open.

“The collaboration of everything is what makes this project wonderful.”

The Salvation Army will be running the cafe, as well as a family resource centre at the community venue.

There will also be a 400-space car park, and a brand new outdoor children’s play area.

The Christian organisation, which owns the land, was last week awarded £170,000 from the Coastal Communities Fund to run a two-year training programme to help unemployed people find work.

Beverley Egan, the Salvation Army’s director for community services, said: “We can now see the legacy emerging before us, which is great.

“Having this funding and this opportunity will enable us to help transform more lives, which is what we are all about.”

Work is also well underway on the 18 kilometres of new trails to make it easier to navigate through the country park.

The Olympic track will be also be adapted for public use ahead of the official reopening of the park in spring 2015.