Petworth’s long quest for a skatepark

Hampers Green, where plans for a skatepark were muted in 2012
Hampers Green, where plans for a skatepark were muted in 2012

NEWSPAPER cuttings spanning two decades record a string of disappointments for Petworth in its continual quest for community facilities.

There is no doubt the town has had a raw deal and it has not been for the want of trying.

As far back as the mid-1990s under the umbrella organisation, Petworth Community Project, clubs, groups, schools, churches and the parish council were working together to try 
to achieve facilities for arts and sports in Petworth and thesurrounding villages.

The town wanted a swimming pool, it wanted a dry sports and leisure centre and it wanted a skatepark.

There must have been elation in the town when Chichester District Council set aside £1.25m for leisure facilities.

It was short-lived. There was no leisure centre or swimming pool.

Instead there was a million-pound Petworth Leisure Fund for projects in and around the town.

Most of the money did indeed fund such projects.

There was a major refurbishment at the club house of the Petworth and District Rifle Club, the restoration of two tennis courts at Tillington recreation ground and maintenance of the two lawns at Rother Valley Croquet Club in Duncton.

But the fund was eventually wound up, with some £50,000 still earmarked for a skatepark.

Efforts to find a site have so far been defeated, but now the cudgel has been taken up by determined new chairman of Petworth Town Council, Chris Kemp.

He has already had a meeting with Chichester District Council officers and has now warned his fellow town councillors the money will not be held indefinitely: ‘We must use it or we may lose it’ is his message.

He is backed by Tony Sneller, who has agreed to take on the project and try to find a home for a skatepark.

A generation of youngsters has already grown up in the town with 
the promise of facilities ringing in their ears.

“This £50,000 is part of the leisure fund that came out of the £1.25m that was set aside for a swimming pool in Petworth,” Mr Kemp said.

“One of the first projects was going to be a skatepark. This has not happened while 
other things have happened and worn out since then.”

The perception skakeparks attract anti-social behaviour has been swept aside by Mr Kemp: “The fixation they attract the wrong sort of people is 
very wrong. In other towns, people say they fix their problems, they don’t cause them.”

Full story of the 20 year search for a site in the Midhurst and Petworth Observer, October 30