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Planning application goes in for new skate park
Published 28/02/14

HENLEY Town Council has applied for planning permission to build a new £250,000 skate park in Makins recreation ground.

The council agreed to submit an application to South Oxfordshire District Council despite objections from two members.

If it is approved, the Henley Skate Park Initiative can begin applying for grants from Sport England and the district council. It has already raised £4,000 and the town council, which owns the land, has pledged £75,000.

A decision on the application is expected in April and it is expected to be approved.

The proposed 850sqm facility would replace the existing 500sqm skate park and a section of the car park.

Colin Brathwaite, who chairs the initiative, said: “This is a big step forward but we know we still have a lot to do.

“The majority of the council has been amazing and support this project. One or two have had concerns and we have tried to address those.

“I’m a Henley resident and have lived here all my life and I know there’s a massive amount of support for this project. I can’t walk through Henley at the weekend without people coming up to me and asking when it’s going to happen.”

More than 30 supporters attended last week’s meeting of the council, where it was decided to apply for planning permission.

BMX rider Jake Clarke, of Luker Avenue, said: “On behalf of the skaters, I’m extremely pleased to thank many of the councillors for their support.”

Paula Isaac, founder of the Gainsborough Residents’ Association, said: “I feel for young adults who are very badly catered for by our council.

“The skate park will be free to use, ensuring that it is accessible to all members of the community. It would be a development Henley could be proud of and could attract people to the town.”

Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak said: “We have got an enormous record of supporting and improving facilities in this town.

“We want future Olympians to come out of this and put Henley on the map for football, rugby, rowing and also skateboarding and wheeled sports.”

Town clerk Mike Kennedy read out the pre-planning advice from the district council, which suggested planning permission was likely to be approved.

It said the plans looked “reasonable and largely achievable”, though a possible concern could be the visual impact of the ramps and other raised equipment.

Councillor Ian Reissmann added: “This is a great project and I fully support it. “I would very much like to see this go forward and I’m delighted the district council gave a ringing endorsement to the principle behind it.”

Only Councillors Will Hamilton and Sam Evans voted against submitting the application while deputy mayor Martin Akehurst abstained.

Cllr Evans said: “I’m not a skateboarder but if the current skate park isn’t big enough to allow for the momentum and flow of skateboarders then why do they use it to the point where it’s worn out?

“We were voted in to represent everybody and to anyone who says it’s the only free sport, go to the hockey or rugby clubs where you can also play for free.”

Councillor Hamilton added: “I do want a skate park. I had a skateboard when I was five years old but I have the feeling that Makins Road is not the best place for the skate park.

“In my view by allowing this planning application to go off we are pre-judging the neighbourhood plan and being duplicitous.

“We should strongly encourage the Henley Skate Park Initiative to get involved with the neighbourhood plan and let the people of Henley decide where the skate park should go.”

Comments on the application can be lodged with the district council by emailing planning@southoxon.gov.uk

Published 28/02/14

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