Greenwich Council planning Charlton Park skate park

Charlton Park Lane, 2011
A skate park could be built on the left, if cabinet members back the scheme on Wednesday

Greenwich Council is considering plans to build a skatepark in Charlton Park, according to papers to be presented to the council’s cabinet next week.

The skatepark would replace one at Royal Arsenal Gardens, Woolwich, which is being destroyed as Berkeley Homes prepares to build tower blocks on the site.

Plans by the Greenwich Skatepark Co-op to build one close to the Thames Barrier fell through after the council decided not to make a decision on a planning application put forward by the group.

Now Greenwich Council is planning to build one in Charlton Park with £365,000 of money from Berkeley Homes, given on the condition that the park is built within two miles of Woolwich.

Two sites in Charlton Park are being considered; one next to the children’s play area on the north side of the park, the other in the corner next to the junction of Charlton Park Lane and Cemetery Lane.

Council officers also looked at sites in Barrier Park, the north side of Maryon Park and at Hornfair Park, but recommended against using these. No sites outside Charlton feature in the report to be presented to the council’s cabinet on Wednesday.

Hornfair Park already has a BMX track but council officers dismiss the site, saying it is the furthest away from Woolwich.

“Among the other disadvantages of this site are that it is less well-connected to Woolwich than the other sites by bus, and is the furthest from a national rail or Underground station. It is also very close to a residential area, from which there is direct access. There are no public toilets on site,” the report says, adding there is a risk it “may not be well-used”.

The report says of Charlton Park: “The infrastructure needed to support it is largely in place which would minimise revenue costs. There is continuity in having a skateboard park in proximity to other outdoor sports facilities, adding to the appeal of Charlton Park as a centre for recreation and sporting activities. Moreover, there is a choice of locations within the Charlton Park, proving some flexibility to adapt proposals in response to consultation.”

The site at Charlton Park Lane is away from homes – opposite Meridian Sports Club – but is popular with local dog owners and is across the other side of the park from the mini-gym and other facilities. There’s been no consultation on the issue so far, but one would begin if the council’s cabinet backs the scheme, which envisages work starting at the end of 2015.

What do you think? Should there be a skate park in Charlton Park? Is there a more suitable location?

Let us know your views (and your councillors might want to know, too.)

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44 thoughts on “Greenwich Council planning Charlton Park skate park

  1. Spoon Taneous July 18, 2014 / 08:33

    It’s difficult to know without seeing what it would look like. Is it just a track? How big is it? Would it restrict access to, for example, joggers/ runners that go around the park?

  2. helenjakeways July 18, 2014 / 10:07

    I have to say there is no clear rationale that I can find in any of the published documents for why a new skatepark anywhere is worth spending £365K of anyone’s money on. If there is, it would be useful to see it, and some more detail of the consultation which has already taken place with existing skatepark users. I’d also want to see some more evidence on:

    How well the current facility is used? How has this been monitored?
    If it’s not well used, does anyone know why and if a new facility were to be relocated how do we know anyone would be likely to use that more / instead?
    Where do the bulk of the skaters currently live?
    Do they travel into Woolwich from elsewhere and if so, where from and by what means?
    Would they be likely to get on a bus to travel to a new facility if it was sufficiently fit-for(their)-purposes?
    What other incentives might they need in order to do so?

    Personally, I think relocating the skatepark into the corner of Charlton Park adjacent to the Cemetery would completely spoil the look and feel of the field and unless there was compelling evidence that a new facility was going to be a) well used and b) couldn’t go anywhere else more suitable for the user group for which it was designed, I cannot see any reason why this would be a good idea. Willing to be persuaded otherwise in the face of any evidence supporting a) and b) which anyone else might have to hand…

  3. Alex July 18, 2014 / 13:59

    What a great idea, something for the kids to do. We don’t want them all sitting around all day getting fat.

  4. Stuart July 18, 2014 / 15:07

    What you have to remember is that the quality of the skatepark correlates to the quality, and quantity of the users. The one at Woolwich is neglected. I don’t go there, I don’t take my son there because it’s cr*p, and dangerous to boot. I go elsewhere, so there are no adults there to regulate things, anti-social elements take over, and so riders don’t go there – they’re scared. No good riders go there, this means the kids don’t see anything inspirational, or have anyone to learn from. This is the downward spiral that occurs when bad skate-parks are built.

    More modern parks, built by companies which employ riders, are far more successful. Every decent skatepark I go to is absolutely overrun. Just Google the new park at the Level in Brighton. Look at Victoria park in Tower Hamlets. Every parent knows that almost every kid has a scooter or BMX or skateboard or a pair of skates. They need somewhere safe to use them.
    It seems like Greenwich are getting the message, which is great. £384k is not enough in my opinion. London deserves a million pound wheeled sports facility. Wheeled sports are hugely popular. They build huge facilities in Europe and the States and China, it’s just we are so behind on picking up in trends in Blighty. Why is it we have dozens of football pitches in Greenwich but not one fit-for-purpose skatepark?

    Charlton Park is the best place for it after Greenwich park I feel. It has a cafe, so there are adults around, so children and young adults will feel safer. It needs to integrated with other activities. This encourages a mixed user group. It’s good to have younger children and families around because it moderates the behaviour of individuals.

    I can’t see how it can do anything but good for Charlton.
    – Good skateparks reduce anti-social behaviour, as documented by the police:
    http://www.dorset.police.uk/default.aspx?page=4814
    – A skatepark on the scale that is being discussed will undoubtedly bring tourists, and commerce to the area. I regularly travel outside of the borough to visit facilities, so we will have visitors coming from surrounding boroughs. If the design implemented has unique features, we will have visitors coming from further afield and from abroad.
    – It is great for the community, exposing & introducing residents to sports/pastimes that transcend cultural boundaries, and bring people together. These disciplines are often considered both a sport, with participants competing, and a performance art; practising and perfecting skills, and sharing these abilities and mentoring. It broadens the horizons of participants hugely, encouraging travel to different facilities, sometimes in other countries & meeting different people.

    What’s important is that a good skatepark is built, it will be good for the community. Concerns I have is that the space suggested by the Council in Charlton Park is not nearly big enough. The cash being talked about should cover a space of 1000sqft. My concern is that the money will not be spent wisely.

    • Stuart July 20, 2014 / 20:39

      sorry, I meant a 1000sq metres, not feet. Which is about the same as the existing park.

    • Richard Reveley July 24, 2014 / 18:50

      The current “facility” in Woolwich is heavily used. There are kids on it every single night all through summer and plenty through the winter too.

    • Alex green January 3, 2016 / 23:24

      Someone that talks sense … That skate park in woolwich is a joke, dangerous and the only people that go there are junkies.
      It was a token offering of cheap dangerous equipment that no skater could ride and surprise surprise there building flats on top .. Never saw that coming much lol
      Greenwich council needs to get a pro skatepark company to design the park and invest a bit more than the stingy offering.

  5. Kate July 19, 2014 / 14:40

    Right next to the Old Cottage Café in Charlton Park could be a problem for the café owners – the extra noise of skateboards somewhat drowning out Classic FM! Surely their opinion is very important as they have worked extremely hard and run a delightful new business which has improved enjoyment of Charlton Park.
    Personally I’d not like to see a skatepark in the gardens of a Jacobean (heritage listed) mansion. It’s an entirely different, much noisier sport than the outdoor gym or cricket.

    Council’s proposals state that the new location has to be multi purpose including for BMX. I don’t understand their argument that 1) Hornfair Park is inappropriate as some of it is leased to GLL – not the BMX area right at the back (I stand corrected if this area is not actually part of Hornfair Park)? or 2) that Hornfair Park is hard to access by bus or has no change etc facilities. True they aren’t open at night but there are some next to the field behind the (GLL leased) tennis courts.
    I’d be in favour of improving and enlarging the current Hornfair park BMX area. Whenever I’m there (often) it seems well used.

    • Stuart July 20, 2014 / 20:52

      Hi Kate, modern parks are constructed in Concrete. Noises consist mostly of dull thuds of urethane wheels on solid concrete – you could equate it to kicking a football. It’s great to hear people are interested in this issue. I’d suggest you go along to a modern facility to see what it’s like if you’re interested in this debate – as I’d suggest for everyone here. Then you’d know what your objecting/consenting to. Victoria Park in Tower Hamlets would probably be the nearest, and most representative of our vision. Get yourself along there, and I’d be interesting in hearing what you think.

      • Jack July 24, 2014 / 22:23

        The insparation at woolwich skatepark is high, coming from someone who claims that they do not go there, personally I don’t think you should have a say. I have been riding woolwich for the past three years and no trouble or anti social behaviour occurs besides in woolwich town centre. The local community of skaters and riders at woolwich is like a family where everyone knows everyone and all get along no matter who you are, everyone is respected. This is going to effect the skaters and riders majorly, a member representing greenwich concil should come to woolwich skate part and let everyone sign a petition and then build around everyone’s ideas. Charlton park would be a good location but there are gangs in the neighbourhood that could make it difficult for people travelling home late.

  6. fahy July 20, 2014 / 18:48

    Seems that the NIMBY brigade are in full flowing regarding Skateboarding in Charlton Park. Worth remembering that the Parks for for every resident young and old. Facilities for young people are important and should be valued . I remember the furore when the BMX facility was proposed in Hornfair. Widely used and valued by young people.

    • Neil C July 20, 2014 / 19:31

      Surely the NIMBYs are the developers who are so keen to see the skate park shifted from their back yard in Woolwich?

      It would seem to me to make more sense to put it with the rest of the sports hub in Hornfair Park. I don’t really get the argument that public transport’s worse for there than Charlton Pk. If it is so bad, why’s the council been investing in the BMX park, tennis courts, etc?

    • Darryl July 20, 2014 / 19:46

      I have mixed feelings on this. But two questions for John Fahy –

      a) Why is Greenwich taking a large sum of money to move a skateboarding facility out of your Woolwich Riverside ward?

      b) What have you done to fight for the retention of a skateboarding facility in Woolwich Riverside ward, which includes Maryon Park and Barrier Park?

      • ThePirateKing July 21, 2014 / 10:01

        Morning mate:
        Barrier Park was looked at about 18 months ago but it has no cafe and no toilets. It’s right next to the polluted Woolwich Road. And it’s pretty deserted and spooky at night. Not very welcoming. It’s also a small park and any skatepark there would rather dominate the whole place. I seem to recall that putting it there also fell foul of the Charlton Masterplan. (!)

  7. helenjakeways July 20, 2014 / 19:49

    My opinion was based on the published RBG document that I had seen, which was neither visionary, or persuasive.

    Stuart makes an excellent case above, and also provides more information about what a skatepark facility could / should be, especially for younger people who need to be safe and supervised. If this is a requirement, then putting the skatepark in the corner of the playing field wouldn’t seem to meet this need – would it not be better located somewhere closer to the existing cafes, toilets and children’s play area?

    Like Stuart, I would be concerned about the amount of money available, although I have no idea how much decent facilities cost. If the idea is to construct something truly innovative in design, of good build quality which will be a genuine attraction to local and visiting skaters and others who need to use safe spaces, then it would be interesting to explore what the costs of such a facility would be, and identify what, if any, the gap is between those and the proposed £365K, and how that gap might be filled.

    If skaters are going to use it because it has been thoughtfully designed, with their input, and carefully located to meet their defined needs, then I would have no problem with it. It would be good to see a facilitated planning session involving representation from all the other organised groups / businesses who use, or are located in the park, as well as people like Stuart who have an understanding of what it could be and how such a facility could add value to everyone else. There might be some interesting programming opportunities which could be explored with the Big Red Bus Club and Charlton Park Academy. If you could get Berkeley Homes to that session as well they might even be persuaded to fill the funding gap, assuming there is one.

    I’m not sure, though, that I can see the point of re-creating a second rate skatepark in a space which doesn’t provide the facilities for, or safety requirements of, the user group for which it is intended, as presumably the same problems which have beset the Woolwich park, will just be re-created elsewhere.

  8. fahy July 20, 2014 / 20:38

    Supporting the Skateboard Park by no means implies acceptance of the overdevelopment of The Arsenal by Berkeley Homes and I am on public record on the matter. The sum of money forms part of the S106 and formed part of the planning conditions. In respect of the relocation I believe,on balance that Charlton Park provides the best option available. It is important to secure the best site and Charlton Park ticks all the boxes.

  9. Bob July 20, 2014 / 21:32

    This does sound a little like its already been decided, will there be a full and public consultation?
    My main worry is that if located in Charlton Park it will either have a detrimental effect on the revenue produced by local businesses like the cafe and Charlton House distorting what was the park of a large house and most definitely a USP of the House. Or ruin whats left of the running track.
    But my main objection is that if (I presume most probably) located beside the playground you will immediately change the dynamic of the play area and alienate the current users (most with small children).
    The expectation of the Council / Skate park developers would be that people using the playground would, by their presence, police the users of the skatepark.

    Quick question for Mr Fahy: could we have the running track reinstated and encourage further sports and clubs back to Charlton with section 106 money or is this revenue tied to specific projects?

  10. matt July 21, 2014 / 09:25

    I just don’t understand the idea of the location. The corner of Charlton Park suggested (over by the Meridian Sports Centre) is in a very isolated area.

    I also can’t understand why anyone would want to hang out in Charlton Park after dark – as it’s an intimidating place (and I’ve lived opposite it for nearly 30 years).

    The reason the Cutty Sark and General Gordon Square are popular with skaters is that they’re well lit with great transport links. The most interesting point is that the skaters, when looking at their website are actively trying to get a skatepark built by the Peninsula, on their website they even say, “in the case of Greenwich, we believe the best location for the Millenium Skatepark is on the Greenwich Peninsula, a short ride from North Greenwich tube station.”

    • Bob July 21, 2014 / 11:08

      Got to agree with you Matt. The Peninsula is crying out for some sort of youth provision, you just have to speak to anyone who lives in the village. Also there was a pot of £250,000 section 106 money for local community when the first phase was completed ????

      • Darryl July 21, 2014 / 11:56

        The sloped planters in Mitre Passage, behind North Greenwich station, are a favourite with skateboarders as well.

        Who agreed to the condition that the park must be within two miles of Woolwich? A site close to the O2 would be ideal, and could possibly attract commercial backing.

      • Stuart July 22, 2014 / 12:08

        I couldn’t agree more.
        Tower hamlets has 3 facilities in all. Victoria Park, Mile End and Mudchute. I think a smaller local facility on the peninsula would great, and well used. But I wouldn’t see it replacing a larger central facility for the wider borough.

    • Stuart July 22, 2014 / 11:53

      It is isolated in that corner, our strong preference would be to site it next to the play area & cafe. Our youth need to feel safe, and a area where everyone – adults, children, teens ‘play’ alongside builds a sense of community, and tolerance and responsibility for others. The result is the space is self-regulated. This is evident in other similar projects, if you’d like to look at Victoria Park in Tower Hamlets, or The Level in Brighton.
      The BMX track is too isolated. My friend’s kids won’t go there because of a bad bunch of kids. If there are not adults in the vicinity these children intimidate others who genuinely want to use the space.
      We worked alongside Bobby from the Jimmy Mizen foundation during our work at OneSpace youth centre in Kidbrooke last year, and the safe haven scheme they run is brilliant. We would like to approach the cafe at the park to see if they would like to be involved in the scheme. Bottom line – if kids don’t feel safe, they won’t go to the facility and it won’t be used. Anti social elements will take over, and the facility will fail.

      And yes, we would prefer the Peninsula, however beggars can’t be choosers. Unfortunately there has been a lack of recognition of the need for a facility, so we’ve not had much choice. Recognition is growing as most of the boroughs in London now have modern facilities and Greenwich is playing catch up. We’ve already been through the process once already to be knocked back, we’re just hoping that the facility isn’t going to hidden away and in some god-forsaken corner of the borough to stagnate and be neglected – further giving the activities undertaken at these places a bad reputation.

      I think a great deal more understanding about the facility and its users is needed. You can read more the provision of modern facilities in surrounding boroughs here:
      http://www.greenwichskatepark.org/
      Please get in contact if you have any questions.

      I’d also like to encourage more positivity about the proposed facility. Done well, it will make the area a better place to live, reducing crime, giving older kids things to do, adding value to property – yes. It’s a real appeal to families – If you asked kids where they’d like to live, and they saw an amazing skatepark up the road, it would be a no-brainer. There is a real gap in the provision of activities for older children everywhere, we put signs up on play parks saying ‘under 13s only’. So what are the 13 – 18s expected to do? Not all kids want to kick a football/do team sports, and these activities offer something different to young people, where they learn creativity, independence and self reliance.

      What the real danger is here is that the project isn’t done well, and ends up being a bad skatepark, in a bad location, making the area worse, and costing a hell of a lot of money in the process. So let’s open our minds to what may be new things, learn more about these activities and the cultures that support them, and create an asset for our community!

      • Bob July 22, 2014 / 12:29

        Stuart. you make some good points but also make some good reasons why not to have a skate park beside the playground. As a local resident and parent of small children how are you or the council going to ease my concerns… by cctv?
        Its bad enough when you get one idiot in the playground on a bike at the moment, how do you stop the spread from the skatepark itself, its not integration its the systematic takeover of an existing facility.
        I don’t want my children picking up on the language, drug taking or culture of violence that usually attaches itself (as a fashion statement) to skating. Nor do I want to be the responsible adult who has the vile onus of having to confront this sort of behaviour and as such can only see this damaging a good family playground for small kids.

      • johngreigmidlane July 23, 2014 / 17:44

        I’m with Stuart on this one. I’d originally thought that the corner site (once upon a time a cricket pitch) would be best. However that site suffers from it’s isolation and lack of facilities. The proposed area will need access to real (not informal) toilet arrangements, and the other facilities of the Park, though it is not clear whether these would be available after hours, however they might be defined.
        The points about interaction with other users and building community spirit are well made. We need more people to use the Park to provide an area where people are pleased to go without fear of either ASBOs or NIMBYs. Some of us thought that more should be done to provide facilities for young women in the Park as it caters mainly for male pursuits – is skate-boarding, like roller derby, likely to do that?

  11. Paula P July 21, 2014 / 09:51

    Who exactly is the NIMBY? Would that be the person who doesn’t want the park next to a Jacobean listed mansion? Well we have Nandos neon lights obscuring the Cutty Sark & welcoming visitors to a World Heritage Site so anything is clearly possible (unfortunately) The park’s a great idea, but should be in the best place for kids to use & taking account of other peoples views too, that’s called being a considerate council, not Nimbyism – very disappointing comment by the councillor

  12. Gary.D July 22, 2014 / 07:03

    I think it’s a brilliant idea,the park is well used and does have a lack of things for the older kids which then encourages them into the children’s play area,it would be better for both age groups and any investment in Charlton park is a good thing it’s about time greenwich council realised the community need investment in leisure and stops pleading poverty,any free activity for the locals is good news .

  13. JJNse7 July 22, 2014 / 09:03

    Some really interesting discussion here and some very pertinent questions raised that I think should be answered by greenwich council. I’m not against the idea entirely but it would have to be sensitive to not damage the integrity of the park and house.

    One further question I would add relates to the budget for ongoing maintenance. A comment or noted that the existing skate park is ina state of disrepair and I have seen a theme over the borough of local art and leisure facilities built then left to crumble after the photo is printed in GT. The loos by the cafe are a good example refurbished less than 15 years ago the interiors and building fabric have suffered from a lack or regular care (and yes I know there is a budget to refurbish but the size of it suggests it would have been much more economic not to allow it to get to this state in the first place). I would hate to see a skate park built then suffer the same fate, if it does the park as a whole will also suffer. Given that funding for the animal park was withdrawn due to budget cuts I wonder? Berkeley should be funding this either with a long term legal commitment or by placing funds in a segragared escrow account for this purpose.

    Finally why should charlton residents just accept that this is a good thing for their back yard when Berkeley clearly think differently for their development. Jackie smith talked of taking down the Berlin Wall between the arsenal and the rest of the community, even if it was more of a figurative comment this move does seem to be greenwich council yet again bending over to any whim of developers.

    • Stuart July 22, 2014 / 11:07

      Modern concrete parks need very little to zero maintenance, and is very little ongoing costs for maintenance. This stuff should really be documented in the report.

  14. Neil C July 22, 2014 / 10:15

    It would be interesting to know what Charlton ward councillors think of the plans.

    • helenjakeways July 22, 2014 / 10:48

      And presumably Greenwich Heritage Trust would have a view as well?

    • ThePirateKing July 22, 2014 / 11:20

      How could we possibly find out? I don’t know. It’s a tough one…

      • ThePirateKing July 22, 2014 / 11:22

        OOps – my reply directed to Neil C’s point. Not Helen’s. x

  15. Weststandwailer July 22, 2014 / 14:01

    Really good comments here.

    Im all for it myself.

    As some one who has ridden bmx all his life (41 now and I know I must look silly) this sort of thing does not generally bring crime or misbehaviour, as for drugs, no more than the rest of society and violent behaviour? Ive never seen any.

    Skateparks are (if designed correctly) a hub for kids who have the same interest and passion for a sport which is something we are really lacking at the moment.

    Ive always been surprised by the inclusiveness of the sports around skateparks and it really is a good way to make friends. Of the skateparks I go to, Victoria, Brixton and Romford there is an atmosphere of creativity and inclusiveness. When my kids are old enough I would love them to get involved.

    What is absoloutely key is the design. A good skatepark will have people travelling a surprising distance to ride. Ive been to Greece and the US (as well as other cities in the uk) myself. A good skatepark will be used a lot. Then, lit up. Generally its going to be used in the evening, if its lit, the troublemakers don’t hang around.

    All in all jthis would be great for local kids. And as an aside for those who might comment on the Hornfair track, they are quite different, one being a race track the other for tricks etc. However, I could see that Hornfair would be the way to go.

  16. fahy July 23, 2014 / 21:23

    I have followed the skateboard debate with enormous interest,disappointed with some of the more outlandish comments but appreciate that the majority of residents have a keen interest in the Park and rightly so. Cabinet agreed the principle of establishing a Skateboard facility in the Park earlier this evening. Consultation will commence shortly. There will be ample opportunity to comment on the proposals before final decisions are made.

    • Neil C July 24, 2014 / 08:35

      Thanks for the update, John. Look forward to hearing more about the consultation process.

  17. Bob Sullian July 24, 2014 / 15:09

    Plumstead common is more suitable

  18. jack July 26, 2014 / 10:23

    I believe that as a skater and bmxer the main downfall of many parks today is the number of children that are Frankly too young to be in the area. This is the reason why I never go to Victoria skatepark as it is based next to a huge playground. The park can be filled with hundreds of children screaming and going around on their 3 wheeled micro scooters.the number of times I have seen children being literally destroyed by crashes into each other is unreal. I really like the design made by the co op. But I would hate to have a huge concrete park ruined by hundreds of blocking toddlers. Jack Hughes

    • Stuart September 15, 2014 / 16:12

      Hi Jack, I’m feeling that.. We will be encouraging the powers that be to provide guidance, and signpost it. I’ve seen kids on three wheel scooters in Victoria park and they are a real danger to themselves and others, and there’s been some ill feeling between the older riders and the parents because of, what I see as, a lack of guidance. If a child cannot stay up without stabilisers they should not anywhere near the facility. That said, I know kids from aged 6 who enjoy to, and should be allowed to ride – usage should be guided by ability, and by common sense, rather than age per se. There should be areas of the park that are suitable for beginners, whether they are 6 or 60…

  19. Stuart September 18, 2014 / 14:25

    Clip from ‘Street Partrol UK’ on BBC1 on the 16th of September 2014

    Dorchester Skatepark has contributed to a drop in anti social behaviour by 45% – Inspector Les Fry, Dorchester Section Commander, said: “This reduction is a tremendous result for the town and shows the real value of having such a good facility for young people.”

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