Friday, 04 December 2020

Skate park costs rise after delays

THE cost of the new skate park in Henley will increase by at least seven per cent.

THE cost of the new skate park in Henley will increase by at least seven per cent.

The development could end up costing as much as £275,000, which is £25,000 more than predicted when the idea of replacing the facility at Makins recreation ground was first mooted more than four years ago.

Colin Brathwaite, who chairs the Henley Skate Park Initiative, told a meeting of the town council’s recreation and amenities committee that the cost of construction would increase by at least £17,500.

This figure would rise if a geotechnical survey of the site found the ground is not strong enough to support the new sunken concrete obstacles because additional re-enforcement would then be needed.

The skate park, which will cater for skateboarders, roller skaters and BMX bikers, has been awarded £100,000 by South Oxfordshire District Council and £75,000 by the town council and the initiative has raised £5,000 and hopes to obtain £50,000 from Sport England.

Town and county councillor David Nimmo Smith said there would still be a shortfall and asked where the money was coming from to meet this.

Mr Brathwaite replied: “I have decided not to detail all our funding options to be respectful to our sources and not put them in the public domain yet.

“There are a couple of small grant options we are still considering and we will consider approaching private donors — we have some in mind.

“We are in discussions with another organisation but I don’t want to put that out until it is agreed but hopefully we will have some good news in the next month or two.

“We are confident we will raise the money required and we are confident it will be a fantastic success.” Councillor Sam Evans said she was concerned at the length of time the project had taken to complete and suggested building a smaller skate park which would be cheaper.

“For people who enjoy their skateboarding it has been a long time without a decent facility,” she said. “It is our responsibility to provide one. There can’t be another year without a skate park.

“If there is an opportunity to get it done sooner rather than later I would leap at the chance. From the research I have done you can get a superb facility for £180,000 to £200,000.”

Mr Brathwaite replied: “I completely understand the people of Henley have had to wait but after waiting four-and-a-half years I don’t think they will mind waiting a little longer.

“We want to continue with our original vision and budget. It is not an option to reduce the size by say 25 per cent because we would have to give back the equivalent amount of money to the district council. Part of the rules is that we continue with our original vision.”

Construction of the new skate park is expected to begin next summer and take 16 weeks to complete, depending on the weather.

The idea of a new skate park was first raised by Henley scout leader Dave Adamson in April 2011 when he described the existing facility as “shoddy and dangerous”.

A group of users and supporters was created to investigate and a year later, following consultation with residents, the town council voted to support a new skate park. A fund-raising campaign was launched in February 2013.

The town council submitted the planning application for the new skate park in March last year.

Most of the 150 responses received during public consultation were in favour and planning permission was granted by the district council.

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