Sunday, 06 December 2020

Five years after boy’s plea, skate park becomes reality

A SKATE park is to be built in Sonning Common â?? almost five years after

A SKATE park is to be built in Sonning Common â?? almost five years after the idea was first raised.

The parish council has approved the project and it is hoped that construction of the 45m x 30m structure will start by the end of the month.

South Oxfordshire District Council has already given planning permission for the skate park at Bishopswood sports ground, off Horsepond Road in Gallowstree Common, which was chosen as a safe environment for children.

Carole Lewis, a parish councillor who chairs the Sonning Common skate park committee, said: “The youth of this village have long campaigned for such a facility and it is wonderful to begin construction of the skate park this spring.

“There is not an official start date yet but we should have one very soon. They’re talking about three months in total for the build. It is not a five-minute job, we just want them to start as soon as they can. We have waited a long time to get to this point.”

The skate park will provide young people in the village with a free-to-use facility that will be open to all.

It will be built by Wheel- scape, a specialist company with more than 25 years’ experience of providing skate parks. The project will cost £100,000 but about £85,000 has already been raised.

Cllr Lewis said: “Although we are a little way off our fund-raising target, we have more fund-raising avenues to explore and are confident of being able to raise the outstanding amount.”

The money raised so far has come from Lafarge Tarmac and South Oxfordshire District Council as well as community fund-raising.

Cllr Lewis said: “The skate park committee acknowledges the support and hard work of all those who helped us achieve this ambitious and much-needed project.”

In July 2010, 11-year-old Archie Stevenson pleaded with the parish council to build a BMX bike park in the village, saying there was nothing for him and his friends to do.

At the time, Archie said: “One of the nearest parks is Henley. It is difficult getting there with a bike without a big car and it is extremely hard to travel long distances on a BMX â?? they are only built for doing tricks.”

A month later the parish council responded, saying it had concerns about finding a suitable locationand the cost.

In the summer of 2012, the council gave a grant of £7,000 to Rotherfield United FC in exchange for part of the site to build a roller park for the village. In the autumn about 20 youngsters attended an exhibition to discuss the design of a new roller park with four potential suppliers.

In February 2013 shortlisted suppliers presented their designs to more than 60 residents and in the summer a planning application was submitted to the district council.

In April last year, the skate park group received £60,000 from Lafarge Tarmac’s community fund and £15,000 from the district council’s community investment fund. In May, Wheelscape was appointed after the original contractor, 1Skateparks, went into receivership.

In September, the parish council provided a £15,000 loan so construction work could begin but a month later it announced that this would be delayed because the paperwork transferring the ownership of the land from the football club to the council had not been signed.

In March, construction was delayed again because minor changes were made to the plans which needed the district council’s approval.

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