Charlton skate park petition shrugged off by Greenwich Council

The skate park would be next to the Charlton Park's outdoor gym

The skate park would be next to Charlton Park’s outdoor gym

Greenwich Council has dismissed a 728-signature petition protesting at the planned skate park in Charlton Park, insisting the controversial proposals will benefit the local community.

The recently-set up Friends of Charlton Park group submitted a petition in July, claiming the skate park would “blight the area”.

“We believe that Charlton Park is not an appropriate venue for a Skateboard Park. In particular, the site chosen would be too disruptive to other activities and may make the park less safe. We do not believe that Greenwich Council should proceed with plans for a Skateboard Park in Charlton without proper consultation and proper funding,” the petition read.

But the council has dismissed each point the petition made in a detailed response – the most in-depth justification for the scheme since it was first announced in July 2014.

The skate park is being built with £365,000 from Berkeley Homes, which is destroying an existing skate park in Royal Arsenal Gardens, Woolwich, to build housing, and £15,000 from the council.

Points made by the council include:

“The boundary of the proposed site is 50m away from the nearest property in Mulberry Close, 65m from the nearest property in MacArthur Terrace and 200m from the nearest property in Canberra Road. This will help ensure the skate park does not cause an increase of 10 decibels or more above existing sound levels for its closest neighbours, including the Old Cottage Cafe. An independent Noise and Vibration Impact Assessment will be carried out and measures to mitigate noise – such as partial sinking below ground level, planting of trees and turf bunding – will be incorporated into the design.”

“The skate park design process must observe the unique character of the park, preserving its amenity and historical importance. The appearance and aesthetic of the skate park will be developed in the context of open space and sympathetic soft landscaping will be a primary feature. This will soften the impact of hard materials and help make the facility in keeping with the park environment.”

“Planning permission is in place for floodlighting to be on until 9:00pm and this area is used by sports teams during the winter months. The addition of a skate park is likely to increase the demand for floodlighting but we will develop a lighting plan to minimise the impact to neighbouring properties. It may mean that use of the skate park after dark is limited to certain days of the week or the cut-off time is before 9:00pm.”

“The new facility will be constructed out of sprayed concrete, which is durable and resistant to damage. Parks, Estates and Open Spaces has a budget for maintenance and cleansing of parks facilities and this will be used to maintain the skate park and surrounding park environment.”

“Parks Rangers work up to 11:00pm at the peak of summer and visit sites across the Borough. This means staff are able to call into the skate park late of an evening during the summer months if required. Wardens will also undertake routine patrols in parks including Charlton Park. There are no plans for new fencing to be erected around the skate park but there is 1m high fencing around the perimeter of the old athletics track with a gate near the park entrance. This gate remains open at present but it can be locked in order to restrict access to this area.”

Victoria Park skate park

BMX-ers using Victoria Park, near Hackney, in June

“Formal on-site supervision is not commonplace at open, free-to-use skate parks and there are no plans for this facility to be permanently supervised by council staff. Skateboarders are usually very keen to take ownership of space they use and facilities of this tend to type self-manage successfully. There are many examples of buddying schemes and clubs that have been set up around skate parks to encourage participation and look after new members, such as the ‘skate mates’ scheme in Haverford West. Given the investment participants have in their sport, the users are likely to also deter and report nuisance behaviour.”

“Various CCTV options are being explored for the skate park.”

“We understand that some people may feel fearful about change but actually parks should also welcome everyone. The skate-boarding fraternity are serious about their sport, and not usually given to anti-social behaviour. There are examples of where that the presence of skate parks actually help to reduce anti-social behaviour and promote social cohesion, for example Strathclyde Police found a 34.9% reduction in youth disorder levels within three years of the skate park in Dumbarton opening in 2003… The majority of local authorities and skateboard operators we have spoken to state that there have been no reports of anti-social behaviour in connection with their skate parks.”

“There is evidence to suggest that skateboarding promotes social inclusion and can have positive effect on well-being. Strathclyde Police found that a new skate park offered activities for other groups ‘such as autistic children and children who are cared for’ as well as ‘local youths’. Overall, it found the skate park was a success in ‘providing a safe, well run alternative which kept youngsters of the streets’. Similarly, Ealing Skateboard Association describes their user group as aged 6 – 60 plus and includes members with special educational needs. They also offer free coaching to female participants.”

“The project team will continue to work with users and stakeholders in order to develop a skate park proposal that is safe, fit-for-purpose and suitable with its surroundings. Direct involvement in the project is open to anyone that registers an interest.”

Perhaps if the council had been this detailed in its arguments in the first place, instead of merely expecting residents to fall into line with what’s effectively a scheme to help Berkeley Homes make lots of money out of Woolwich property, then it wouldn’t have found itself facing a hostile petition in the first place.

Indeed, the most curious thing has been the lack of overt political backing for the project – barely a peep from local councillors. It’s as if they’re entirely helpless about what goes on in their own wards. It’s worth pointing out that some of the leading lights in the anti-skate park group are longstanding members of the ruling Labour party.

The lack of honest, open debate about the scheme has said volumes about the political culture in this area – none of it good.

That said, behind the scenes, there have been local people, getting on with it, and talking to the council officers about making the best of the proposal. And the council’s response suggests they may well be on the right track. If you want to join them, visit www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk/charltonskatepark to find out how.

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About Darryl

Journalist, SE Londoner.
This entry was posted in Charlton, Charlton news and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Charlton skate park petition shrugged off by Greenwich Council

  1. Spoontaneous says:

    I have been told they will have to move the ping pong tables elsewhere because the skate park is basically going where the tables are at the moment. I hope they pick a more sheltered spot. It is difficult to play when it is windy, which is a lot of the time.

  2. Kenny Astbury says:

    I welcome it to the area. We need more of this! A bit of consultation would be good, but you will always get those who oppose this kind of thing. Adding the skate park to the bmx track in hornfair park wouldn’t have been a bad idea. I hope the old cottage gets more business as a result. Got to be hands down the best cafe in Greenwich!

  3. “Indeed, the most curious thing has been the lack of overt political backing for the project – barely a peep from local councillors. It’s as if they’re entirely helpless about what goes on in their own wards.”

    Darryl – to your knowledge – have any of our three Charlton ward councillors expressed a view about the skatepark publicly?

    Presumably they are in favour of £330K of investment in fitness and sports coming to Charlton ward and in favour as it’s a Labour council idea?

    Has anyone heard from them?

    • Darryl says:

      ThePirateKing – to be the best of my knowledge, I’ve not heard them express any view. More broadly, I’ve not seen *any* Greenwich councillor express a view on it, with the exception of Woolwich Riverside’s Jackie Smith, under whose environment portfolio the scheme sits (rather than Miranda Williams’ culture and sport, which would suggest the council was taking it a bit more seriously).

      • Nikki says:

        Sorry, I haven’t been keeping up & should have said this earlier. At the very first public meeting that launched the consultation (in March, perhaps? Some time ago at any rate), Miranda Williams spoke very strongly in favour of the skate park. Alan McCarthy was there also and didn’t really commit himself in either direction but promised to listen to residents’ concerns on both sides.

        • Darryl says:

          Bit of a spoiler alert for something we’re working on that’ll hopefully appear this weekend, but Gary Parker is on the fence too – too many answered questions about the site, he says. It’s due to go to planning in January.

  4. UPDATE on the SkatePark – For those not on “The Twitter”…. At yesterday evening’s council meeting, the council were presented with a petition signed by one thousand punters in FAVOUR of the SkatePark coming to Charlton Park. Many thanks to all those who signed the petition. Amazing support. Please build us a skate park now.

  5. Th very small anti petition was started by a small hyper-local group who’s catchment area doesn’t include the park.

  6. Pingback: Charlton Park skatepark reaches first planning stage – have your say | The Charlton Champion

  7. Pingback: Charlton skate park gets go-ahead from Greenwich councillors | The Charlton Champion

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