Skate park planned for Thames Barrier site

The Greenwich Skatepark Co-Op has been in touch about its plans to build a skate park on the green space at Eastmoor Street, close to the Thames Barrier. It would replace the current facility by the Thames at Woolwich, which is due to be taken over for Crossrail works. Secretary Ashleigh Marsh explains…

“We are applying for funding from sources including Sport England and the Mayor’s Fund, and your support can help us to achieve enough to make sure Greenwich at last has a quality skatepark. The Woolwich skatepark is underused due to its outdated design, with poor surfaces and resulting maintenance problems, and our young people who cannot easily travel across London need somewhere local to develop their skills. If we maximise our fundraising success, we can aim to build a skatepark as good as any in London, to gain a lasting legacy from the Olympics for the South East London community of skaters and riders, and beyond.

“The value of a skatepark can be measured by its appeal to people who may not enjoy team sports, but like to express themselves in other challenging physical activities. A professional quality skatepark will mean our young people will be able to progress from beginners to the highest levels in a positive atmosphere of skill sharing, bringing cultures and generations together. Seeing what visiting professionals and teams can do will be inspirational.

“Our members share many years of skateboarding experience and community work. We will make sure that the new park is designed and built to last by specialists, and will work with the Council to make sure it is well looked after. We are planning to run events such as competitions and summer schools to make sure this opportunity will give maximum benefit to the community. We are in touch with the Greenwich BMX Club, at the Hornfair racing track, and their riders would also welcome a concrete park, with more scope for different techniques.”

The co-op also hopes to build links with The Reach climbing wall and The Raceway go-kart centre, both of which are nearby. A planning application is due in the next fortnight, and construction could start this summer if funds are in place.

31 thoughts on “Skate park planned for Thames Barrier site

  1. Chris January 23, 2012 / 08:51

    Good luck to them. Skateboarding has an undeserved ‘chavvy’ reputation, yet I know some skateboard fans and they decidely un-chavvish.

    It’s a actually highly difficult to do and requires a lot of skill. Much better to create a nice park for afficionados of the activity than build squares in the middle of Woolwich for them…..

  2. Brenda January 23, 2012 / 16:57

    Actually Chris, another one for the Charlton characters but have you seen the woman skateboarding around the area. She’s often seen practicing on The Heights and Lansdowne. She swears and shouts loudly away when she comes off it.

    • Ashleigh January 23, 2012 / 18:46

      Not as loudly as I shout when I land a new trick successfully! It’s something of a personal challenge, and I do tend to give myself hard words. I do try not to swear in front of the children though, and will bear your comment in mind.

      • Brenda January 24, 2012 / 10:43

        You go Ashleigh! I love watching you full of concentration!

  3. Chris January 23, 2012 / 17:41

    That’s a new one on me!

    I’ve got a mate who lives on the Heights, will check with him.

  4. Dan January 24, 2012 / 08:32

    Great news to get local kids active and good news for local skaters. The only trouble you really see from these is non-skaters using it as a hang-out place if under used. Lets hope it attracts a good crowd of enthusiasts to keep it looked after.

    Perhaps I’ll dig out my old board!

    • Ashleigh January 26, 2012 / 17:03

      We’ve got enough supporters to keep it active and creative. Also planning a bowl with concrete coping – hope that suits you, Dan. Long term we’d like to get a nearby premises for a shop, screening room and cafe. Would you like to get involved? – Come to our film night tonight at The Lord Hood for a bit of a celebration. Greenwich Council have confirmed we’ll get a good amount of funding to compensate for losing the Woolwich skatepark site, so we’re off to a good start.

  5. Paul January 26, 2012 / 18:42

    Watching people fall on their arses whilst enjoying themselves is a rare pleausre. Those partaking in activities which involve potential injury should be applauded in this modern cotton wool wrapped world we live in.

  6. ThePirateKing January 26, 2012 / 22:10

    It does seem a bit of a shame that with so much unused concrete around, you’re planning to take away trees and grass from a park and cover them under yet more concrete.

    I’d support a new skatepark in principle, but I’m not sure this is the best place for it.

    • Rejory May 23, 2012 / 00:25


  7. Ashleigh January 30, 2012 / 23:12

    It needs to be somewhere accessible, not too tucked away. Being by the main road on the edge of the industrial estate will be much better than somewhere screened from view or a mostly residential area. The best place would possibly be on the peninsula, but for that we might have to wait for the end of the property boom. I went down to Peninsula Ecology Park today. It’s a wonderful place, but doesn’t answer the local needs for physical recreation space. And where are the campaigners against the redevelopment of the Woolwich Riverside Park? Not such a wildlife-friendly site, maybe, but a vital artery for the community.

  8. Ashleigh February 9, 2012 / 23:38

    I hope people will be pleased to see we’ve revised the skatepark plan a lot to fit the Barrier Park.

    We want to keep as much of the shrubbery as possible, and can save more trees and leave the Green Chain path in place, with some more screening planned around the rounded edge of the shallow plaza section at the north east. This is the part of the skatepark suitable for beginners, and so as not to squeeze it too small, we are planning to use raft technology to preserve the root system of at least one, possibly both, of the Lombardy poplars, and fit the rock seats into the edge of the skatepark. We will have to re-route the short path from Eastmoor Street at the south west a bit further from the bowl – we should site the bowl on the incline here so it doesn’t stick up much above ground. One small tree is in the way at the east edge, a Rowan I believe, but there is no other way to get a safe width. There is a chance we can move it, and we’ll do our best. The 2 trees in the middle, an oak and birch, cannot be saved, but we have managed to preserve most of the coppicing and shrubbery.

    We are planning iron railings along the edge of Eastmoor Street, and can place 2 floodlights between the existing lampposts, so there will be lighting for the skatepark that doesn’t glare onto the paths and wild areas. We need some protection between the plaza and the green Chain path, and would like to hear whether people would rather we opted for (tasteful!) iron railings or a spaced log balustrade, to match the path nearby. We would also like to replant some shrubbery, but there is not much room without cluttering the park up. Most of the Green Chain path will still have shrubbery screening it on the ridge, though.

    We also want to run a competition to design an ornamental embossed arch over the south end Eastmoor Street footpath, to celebrate Greenwich’s first concrete skatepark, working in collaboration with local art/craftists. We believe a good skatepark is a thing of beaty. Think of it as a kinetic sculpture, if you will.

    I know some people are upset to lose green space, but we will be using a small fraction of the whole park, and let’s face it that area facing the industrial estate is chronically underused. We couldn’t build in Maryon Park. The site is too isolated. The trees are too dense for drainage. There is no possibility of toilet facilities or a cafe there now that these are planned for Maryon Wilson Park. Barrier park is an easy skate or bike from two cafes and a pub, the local trades premises are friendly, and we hope to find a local premises for a cafe and shop ourselves soon, if we can.

  9. ThePirateKing February 10, 2012 / 23:13

    Thanks for posting the thoughts and the plans, Ashleigh.

    I still think it’s a great shame to put that much of a park under concrete. Especially when so much of the surrounding area is ugly concrete already.

    This location is windswept and it’s in the middle of no where with no toilet facilities.

    Because you don’t want to build in Maryon Park, doesn’t mean you should build in Barrier Park just across the road. You do seem to chosen Barrier Park purely because there is nowhere else that will have the skatepark, rather than because it’s the best (or even a good) site to have it.

  10. Ashleigh February 11, 2012 / 00:29

    Actually, it’s a fantastic site for it, better than the peninsula in many ways. It’s near enough for the Woolwich skatepark regulars to get to under their own steam. It feels like a real good place, with work going on, rather than Milton Keynes gone mad on money. It’s in a busy, safe place with good visibility, and not in a residential area. I’ve never felt windswept there either.
    We will of course hire portaloos for events. We are budgeting for development funding to get something permanent organised.
    The riverside population is set to grow by thousands in the next decade. I think Charlton does well out of this, compared to Woolwich. Would you rather have a major rail terminus and a couple of tower blocks on your park?

  11. ThePirateKing February 11, 2012 / 09:17

    I’d rather have a park. !

  12. IG February 12, 2012 / 20:42

    I agree that a new skate park would be a good thing…but ideally not over parkland, and especially where any trees need to be felled.

    I think the central issue here is why does a skatepark need to be built over an actual park? I would like to hear about the other potential sites considered and why they were ruled out. Given it is both council and government policy to favour brownfield development, I’m a little confused as to why a tiny slice of greenfield site has been chosen over the sprawling mass of under used concrete on the riverside today. Is it cost considerations? (building on greenfield is almost always cheaper), or is actually that there is no brownfield development sites available (I don’t think so!). Or perhaps when a town planner hears ‘park’ in the title this somehow tricks them into thinking they are planting trees. I don’t know.

    Really don’t want to put a downer on the idea of a skatepark though, as I think it would be a good addition to the area. Perhaps it would be a little more tucked away on an industrial estate or nearer the river, but just think about being able to lift a jump and catching site of the river!

    Good luck with this.

  13. ThePirateKing February 13, 2012 / 10:36

    And even as we were talking the debate has moved on…

    The new masterplans for Greenwich Riverfront show Barrier Park larger, greener, and free of any skatepark.

    Barrier Park is now next to and opposite a residential area.

    But there is also good news for Ashleigh’s skateboarders because Phase Four of the plans includes a “skateboard park leisure centre” build on a brownfield site so no park gets concreted over.

    We live in interesting times.

  14. Ashleigh February 13, 2012 / 11:00

    I’ve read the previous local development strategy documents that were published last year for consultation. What struck me most was that working industrial land would be redesignated for residential development without much awareness of the need for balance between work and the rest of life. Do we really want our industrial estate built over for intensive housing if it destroys local jobs? There was talk of a skatepark site further down past the Woolwich Arsenal – this was apparently something to be negotiated with Berkeley Homes after the Crossrail development as part of a new ‘linear’ park. It would be out of our hands, too little and too late.

    Many of the local businesses seem to like the skatepark site in Barrier Park – I rather hope this is because we can help keep the area safe for local business.

    • ThePirateKing February 22, 2012 / 10:30

      Ashleigh – In the Garden City Thread you said that your Skate Co-op was meeting on Monday (20th) to decide if you were pressing ahead with plans for the site in Barrier Gardens or in light of the Riverside Masterplan being made public (with other plans for Barrier Gardens and a Skatepark provided elsewhere in the area) you were doing something different.

      Grateful for an update on what was decided. Thank you.

  15. Ashleigh February 22, 2012 / 10:50

    Yes, sorry not to have posted sooner, but we have busy with the plans. Page 17 of the Charlton Riverside masterplan identifies a need for a skatepark in the area, and this has to be free and accessible or it won’t fill that need! So we decided the Barrier Park site is our only practical option now for the young people of Woolwich, as our old skatepark is due to be demolished for the Crossrail site. A future indoor park would be nice, but you need to be able to skate a lot to get any good at it – even at my age I can’t afford to pay to skate except as a special treat. With the Olympics coming up the idea is to provide for real progression in sports, and quality facilities for the future of the community.

  16. ThePirateKing February 22, 2012 / 11:00

    Thanks for the post and the update, Ashleigh.

    I think it will be very hard to raise funds for a site which has Green Chain trees on it, AND now is ear marked for future landscaping etc, especially with plans for another free skatepark very close by, but I guess we’ll see what happens.

    Thanks again.

  17. Ashleigh February 22, 2012 / 11:07

    What free skatepark nearby is that? And when? We haven’t heard about any such plan.

    • ThePirateKing February 22, 2012 / 11:11

      The one planned in Phase 4 of the ‘Riverside Masterplan’.

      Admittedly – as we’ve spoken of before – that is someway in the future.

    • Ashleigh February 22, 2012 / 11:40

      If you mean at the Woolwich Arsenal after all, that would be news to us, in the light of recent developments. I went to the consultation at the Valley on Monday afternoon and asked about the building on the Woolwich Waterfront park – when I was told this was not mentioned in the masterplan because it was already part of Crossrail I didn’t ask any more detailed questions about the skatepark.
      Do the Crossrail plans spell out anything definite? The possible problems with the linear park idea were limited size of the site, uncertain timescale, and being near intense residential development – an guarantee of a big enough site there for a quality concrete park would be quite something, but meanwhile the circle site needs a lot of maintenance – people just don’t like to skate there much because of the tarmac and old ramps. Something needs to be done now. If we wait til after Crossrail who knows how long it will take?

      • ThePirateKing February 22, 2012 / 12:05

        I’m not talking about the Crossrail site.

        I’m referring to the free skatepark proposed / planned in Phase 4 of the Charlton Riverside Masterplan document. It’s on pages 17, and 22 & 23. (You and I discussed this in the Garden City thread and you thanked me for drawing it to your attention.)

        It’s relevant to your application because if the Charlton Riverside Masterplan is adopted as council policy (as is obviously likely) then there would be plans for two skateparks within five minutes walk of each other.

  18. Ashleigh February 22, 2012 / 16:14

    I hadn’t seen page 22, how interesting! (And sorry our replies seemed to have crossed, by the way – I am trying to keep up with this while working.)
    Would that be part of the future secondary school?
    Can you imagine that a secondary school will have upwards of 1000 square metres of space for a professional quality park with unrestricted access?

    Our nearest South East London concrete park – until the community skatepark at Telegraph Hill opens next month! – is in Bexleyheath, attached to a youth club. It is an alright concrete park, by all accounts, but I haven’t skated it yet because they have a policy that limits the times available for adults. Some of our members find this really difficult because parents and children can’t easily skate together – frankly this goes against our accessible ethos.

    It simply isn’t true that skateboarding is an activity for youth alone. The involvement of all ages and cultures makes for a positive atmosphere of skill-sharing and progression – this is what we are about.

    When I first looked through the masterplan online I read page 17 first, which says the need for a secondary school AND a skatepark HAVE been identified (my emphasis) and this looked well on track with what we have been discussing with the Council. The Council do seem to have become aware that to design and build a skatepark without the active involvement of the skating and riding community can result in an underused park that doesn’t really suit the purpose, even with the best intentions. The quality of the Waterfront skatepark is is a bit of a joke in this day and age. It is possible to get it wrong in other ways than bad construction, though. Hemel Hempstead is a huge professional quality indoor park that locals can’t afford to use, and Bexleyheath is a small well-built park with restricted access. What can I say?

  19. ThePirateKing February 23, 2012 / 01:26

    Ashleigh – thanks for the reply.

    I didn’t mean to open a debate about the quality of near by skateparks (of which I know nothing), but rather point out that if you pursue your plan for Barrier Park then there will be two planned skateparks very close to each other which I don’t think will help you raise money / funds for yours.

    As a factual note – the phase 4 skatepark (in the Charlton Riverside Masterplan) is being proposed as being next to a leisure centre. It’s NOT part of any school. (They are just mentioned together on one page.)

    It’s probably worth you reading the whole document.

  20. Ashleigh February 23, 2012 / 02:54

    I have read it all, and now got a paper copy – the illustration you pointed out on page 22 was hard to relate to the phases on page 23 online.

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