Concern voiced over Petworth skate park plan

Roger Hanauer, left, town council chairman Chris Kemp and Michael Peet who is also working on the project
Roger Hanauer, left, town council chairman Chris Kemp and Michael Peet who is also working on the project

Petworth’s long-awaited skate park plans have hit another hurdle as neighbouring residents voiced their concerns over the project.

The concerns come as town councillors are preparing to submit plans for the skate park on land at the bottom end of the town’s central Pound Street car park.

Resident Rob Chandler, of Wyndham Road, who says he is speaking on behalf of nearly 40 residents, has expressed fears, saying he and fellow residents ‘strongly’ oppose them.

“This is our main car park which services our town,” he said in a letter to the Observer, “which is frequently full and therefore replacing those much needed spaces with a facility which clearly is not needed would be a mistake and more importantly a waste of funds which could be used more sensibly to improve the youth facilities at the Sylvia Beaufoy centre or the Rosemary Gardens playground.”

He said he believed mixing an already busy car park with children was ‘clearly a dangerous and unpractical location’.

It is set back for town councillors who were forced to abandon plans for the skate park on their preferred site in the Sylvia Beaufoy car park last year.

They were shocked and angered when Chichester district councillors voted not to back their plans, expressing concerns over safety despite a recommendation from their officers to support their application for facilities on the district council land.

But in a surprise move members asked the town council to explore a new location. Calling it a ‘deeply flawed decision’, town councillors drew up battlelines.

And later they held talks with senior Chichester district councillors, which resulted in new plans, in the town centre car park.

In the last few months there has been debate about how many car parking spaces would be lost but town councillors believe they are now close to putting in a planning application.

Vice chairman of Petworth Town Council, Roger Hanaueur, who is leading the skate park project, said a comprehensive feasibility study and options appraisal had been undertaken and presented to Chichester District Council’s cabinet members.

The result was that the project was deemed sound on its site in the least used corner of the Pound Street car park.

“Its design is such that as much stagnant ground as possible will be used, thus honouring the caveat placed on us to keep the net loss of car parking spaces to four.

“All our research shows that skate parks are a catalyst for good in a community. New build and board materials means that potential noise nuisance is largely eliminated and the site benefits from CCTV coverage as a deterrent to any anti-social behaviour.

“We are confident that the skate park will be an asset to the town as a whole and provide our young people with a long promised sporting outlet for their enjoyment.”

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