A much-anticipated £80,000 skatepark for young people can be developed in a Petworth town centre car park, despite fears over a loss of parking spaces.
Chichester District Council’s (CDC) cabinet approved Petworth Town Council’s bid to redevelop part of Pound Street car park into the facility, subject to planning consent and the replacement of most of the 11 parking spaces lost.
Cabinet members also approved a £70,000 contribution to the scheme at Tuesday’s meeting, with the town council contributing £10,000.
Cllr Gillian Keegan said: “Petworth Town Council have made many attempts to find a suitable location and largely these have failed due to the lack of landowner support.
“The options analysis considered 20 sites, including two sites in CDC ownership, Sylvia Beaufoy car park and the Pound Street car park.
“CDC is now being asked to consider releasing some of its parking land in Pound Street for the skatepark.
“In doing this we are trying to support the aspirations of young people in Petworth and the surrounding area by providing a much-wanted skatepark facility.
“The loss of car parking spaces is a concern, so the agreement will be subject to recovering parking provision through more productive use and potential realigning to optimise both the car parks in the town centre, and also consider where the recycling bins are located.”
Cllr Keegan said a footpath directly to the skatepark would mitigate some vehicle movements in and out of the new skatepark.
The Petworth Business Association objected to the proposal because of the impact on parking capacity and on current and future economic growth, due to the ‘strategic importance’ of one of the town’s two main car parks.
Petworth resident of 30 years, Mrs Graves, also spoke to express her fears, saying there was already a lack of parking which had a detrimental effect on visitor numbers, and that the skatepark would only serve a ‘small group of people’.
However town councillor Michael Peet said a new skatepark had ‘resounding support’ and would be used by youngsters in surrounding villages like Grafham, Duncton and Fittleworth.
Cllr Philippa Hardwick said it looked a better site than the Sylvia Beaufoy car park, where cabinet members rejected a proposal in February last year, with capacity at Pound Street at only 80 per cent.
She said: “The concerns raised are real but we are balancing the provision of something which has been asked for by a broad spectrum of Petworth residents.
“If we can reorganise the area as much as possible to maximise the parking space then I think this is something which warrants strong support by us.”
Cabinet members expressed disappointment that no other site could be found before unanimously approving the proposal, with the condition that most of the 11 parking spaces lost would be recovered.
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