A NEW £95,000 skate park in Sonning Common has been granted planning permission.
South Oxfordshire District Council approved the application for a 45m x 30m structure in the south-east corner of Bishopswood Sports Ground.
Ownership of the land will be transferred from Rotherfield United Football Club to Sonning Common Parish Council, which submitted the plans.
Construction work could begin early next year, subject to funding, and will be carried out by specialist company 1Skateparks, of Salisbury.
The skate park working group has been advised to draw up an antisocial behaviour strategy before work begins and is expected to involve the neighbourhood policing team.
Carole Lewis, a parish councillor who chairs the group, said she was delighted to have secured planning permission. “The years of waiting for a skate park may soon be over,” she said.
The group will now focus on raising money. A grant application has been made to the Landfill Communities Fund and a number of events will take place this month.The Nottakwire community choir has donated £150 following its summer concert.
Cllr Lewis said: “Our efforts to date have demonstrated the breadth of the appeal for the project and this has been reflected in the age range of those who have given us support. We will continue to seek funding from larger organisations and are currently researching our options.
“We are optimistic about getting major funding from a landfill operator and we have already received cash and support from numerous local individuals and organisations. With the public’s help, we can make this exciting project a reality and provide a much-needed outdoor focus for young people in a safe environment.”
Youngsters from Sonning Common helped choose the contractor after providing feedback on possible designs put forward by three companies at an open event.
Cllr Lewis said: “The project addresses a public recreational need for children over 12. Currently, Sonning Common has three public play areas for the under-12s but nothing for the teenagers who have been asking for a skate park for some years. It was about time we listened and acted.
“Importantly, the skate park will appeal to all age ranges and we are confident that it will provide plenty of scope for the novice as well as more experienced riders to have fun.”
She said the possibility of a second skate park for smaller children could be investigated once this one had been built.
Cllr Lewis added: “The working group is delighted with the support it has received to date but we require consistent commitment to overcome the daunting financial challenge.”
The application was supported by Paul Lucas, the district council’s leisure and economic development officer, who said the skate park would bring “many benefits”.
There were no objections from neighbours, the highways authority, countryside officer or environmental protection team and Sport England withdrew its objection after Rotherfield United said the area was “surplus” to its needs and had been overgrown with scrub until recently.
Tom Wyatt, the district council’s development management team leader, said the site was in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the skate park would be a “sizeable structure”.
However, he added: “It would be discreetly located in the far corner of the site, where there is established tree and hedge cover along the boundaries.”
Forthcoming fund-raising events include:
lA Sixties-themed annual lunch at the village hall today (Friday).
lA toy sale in the village hall on Saturday, September 14 from 10am to noon, with the proceeds being split between the skate park project and Club SC.
lA quiz night at the village hall on September 27, when the draw for a 1,000-ticket raffle will be made.
Toys are needed for the sale. Anyone with a donation should contact parish clerk Philip Collings on 0118 972 3616.