Charlton Park skatepark reaches first planning stage – have your say

The skatepark would wrap around the outdoor gym

The skatepark would wrap around the outdoor gym

Greenwich Council planners are seeking views on the proposed skatepark in Charlton Park – so if you’ve got a strong view on the proposal, now’s the chance to have your say.

The proposals, which have attracted petitions both for and against the scheme, would see an L-shaped facility built around the mini-gym to the south of the Charlton Lane entrance.

You can see the initial plans for yourself on the Greenwich Council website (search the online planning system for 16/0058/O if the link doesn’t work).

This application is to get permission for the location and size (900m²) – full details, including the final design, will follow in a further application, if this one gets the nod.

So there’s no visualisation of how the landscaped facility will look – the closest you’ll find is a site plan showing the dimensions of the skate park.

skatepark plans

The location has been chosen for its “minimal effect on Charlton House”, according to a statement from Woolwich-based architecture firm Martin Arnold, which is handling the scheme for Greenwich Council.

It adds:

“The proposed design will aim to be sympathetic to Charlton Park with features of the skatepark complementing materials and finishes from Charlton House. The open nature of the park will try to be maintained by sinking the skatepark within the ground to reduce the visual impact of the proposal within Charlton Park and also assist in noise reduction.

“The skatepark will be excavated into the ground at different depths and heights with a maximum measurement of 1600mm below the existing ground level. The proposed skatepark will not extend more than 750mm above the existing ground level, for reference the adjacent climbing wall is approximately 2000mm above the existing ground level.

Comments need to be with Greenwich Council – either through the planning website or by emailing planning[at]royalgreenwich.gov.uk – by 15 March.

The proposals have been controversial since they first emerged in July 2014, mainly due to the lack of public consultation on the scheme.

Funding for the scheme is coming from Berkeley Homes, which is paying £365,000 towards the facility to replace the skatepark at Royal Arsenal Gardens, Woolwich. A condition of the money was that the new park had to be within two miles of Woolwich. A further £15,000 is coming from the council.

Sites at Hornfair Park and Barrier Park were also considered, this website has also discovered that a site at Villas Road, Plumstead was also briefly in contention. A “stakeholders’ forum” has been meeting regularly since then to discuss the proposals.

A Friends of Charlton Park group was set up to oppose the proposals. A 728-name petition was dismissed by the council last year.

A counter-petition to support the park, signed by 1,038 people, was also presented to the council and received a rather warmer response:

“Charlton Park was deemed the most suitable location for a skate park because it is a visible, safe area that: is easily accessible by foot or public transport, has existing infrastructure such as toilets and floodlighting and is close to local amenities. It will also complement the existing sport and leisure provision in the park.

“Royal Greenwich sees this project as an exciting opportunity to not only revitalise facilities for existing skateboarders and riders, but as something that will bring added value to Charlton Park and the Royal Borough as a whole.”

Despite this official support from the council, one curious feature of the scheme is that local councillors have been lukewarm at best in their backing for the proposals.

Since the planning application is not fully detailed, one thing is certain – the skatepark saga has some way to stagger on yet.

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About Darryl

Journalist, SE Londoner.
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11 Responses to Charlton Park skatepark reaches first planning stage – have your say

  1. Joy Ogden says:

    You have written an interesting – and largely fair – account of the situation so far but I would like to add my observations. You say that the Friends of Charlton Park was set up to oppose the proposal for a skate park – as a member I would like to say that isn’t true, although it is true that we do oppose its siting in Charlton Park. We are also planning to help with the upkeep of the plants and have offered our services. Our position was repeatedly mis-represented to the Council by Denise Hyland as one from ‘people of a certain age’ against all skate parks, in contrast to the young people who universally favour them. We do not oppose skate parks – I have seen some excellent ones, where I marvelled at the skill the skate boarders showed – but we do not think that Charlton Park is the right place for one because – look at the illustration – for one thing it is in an area that is already congested, with the outdoor gym, dog walkers, riding for the disabled, football training, cricketers, people going to and from the bus stop, etc etc. It is also in an otherwise peaceful conservation area in front of a beautiful Jacobean house. We believe that Hornfair Park would be a much more suitable venue, with its existing fenced, secure BMX facility. Or in Woolwich, to provide the enthusiastic skaters there with a replacement for the one they have lost.

    And to set the record straight, the 728 name petition that FoCP collected in opposition to the plan was collected from local residents – many of them young – in the streets surrounding Charlton Park, who had not heard about the proposal and were upset about it when they did. It is true that this petition was dismissed by the council. Surprisingly, the other petition in favour of the skate park with 1,038 signatures, that you say, quite rightly, ‘received a rather warmer response’, was collected online, with signatories from people in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Hong Kong to name two of the many more from overseas, one just from ‘Italy’, and many others from around the UK, including Blackpool, Bournemouth, Manchester etc etc – there were around 200 from ‘London’ but only two identifiably from Charlton and three from Woolwich. What is going on when people who live on the other side of the world have more influence on local planning decisions than the people who live locally and will be most affected? Is this local democracy?

  2. For the record… the new “Friends of Charlton Park” group were indeed set up to oppose the skate park. If that is not the case, then why do they not hold open meetings or have open elections? Why are they not formally recognised by the council as other Friends groups are? Why have I received no answers to my emails asking to join and to be invited to their meetings? What is the explanation if not that they are a closed group that only accept people who are against the skatepark? I have no issue with a group campaigning against the skatepark but they should be honest about what they are.

  3. Paul C says:

    I really hoped we’d seen the end of ‘the petition wars’ Joy but your figures are completely wrong I’m afraid. I have no idea where you got the idea of 2 ‘identifiably Charlton’ signatures. I am looking at the names we submitted now. 367 Charlton postcodes. Another 217 from Blackheath and Woolwich next door. Add another 208 from areas as exotic as Lewisham, Bromley, Greenwich, Thamesmead and other local postcodes. 81 from London (but not SE) postcodes makes a total of 873 signers within an easy travel of the skate park. We did have signers from Ho Chi Minh City and a few other places but any non-UK signatures were deliberately removed by us before it went to the council.

    I should point out that if anyone is reading this in Ho Chi Minh City and feeling unwanted, you are of course welcome to come and enjoy the skate park (if it gets built) and our famous Charlton hospitality.

    • Joy Ogden says:

      I got my information from the link that was provided at the time, when there were only around 500 names on the petition, rather than the 1,000 claimed and – as I said – of them only 2 were identifiably from Charlton and 3 from Woolwich, while the rest were as I said and as I laboriously recorded by hand. I only mention the petitions because ours – collected door to door in the streets round Charlton Park – was dismissed, while yours, collected online from people who are, for the most part, unlikely to be affected by the decision whether to build a skate park in Charlton Park or not. And the councillor was waving the online petition joyously in the air, claiming it was from ‘young people’ rather than the petition collected by people ‘of a certain age’ whose views – and those of the local people whose signatures they had collected – obviously counted for nothing. If you add up the revised figures of your pro- petition (excluding the 208 from the more – maybe not exotic, but still less close to the area under discussion) you had 584 from Charlton and Woolwich, to our 728. I am perfectly happy to be placed on an equal footing with you, even given that we have a lead there, but I think you must agree that it is hardly fair of the council to ‘dismiss’ our petition but to eulogise yours. Fair do’s!!

      • s2news says:

        Joy, I believe the positive responses count more because these are the people who want to use the facility. It would seem to make sense to put facilities where people who were going to use them wanted them. If we decided where we put public facilities based upon where people didn’t want them, it just wouldn’t be very practical administratively.. Whilst I can understand your concerns, because it’s new, and new things are scary to people, but all the kids have scooters/bmx/next-new-big-fad, and they want these facilities, and parents want a safe place for the kids to do it. The kids are doing less traditional sports, and it’s just not fair to say ‘our park is for these sports, but not those sports’. That’s not being inclusive. That’s intolerance. That brings us to the key point, yes, there’s a nice Jacobean mansion on the site, but it’s a sports hub, and that can & should include ‘extreme’/action sports. It’s happening everywhere, and we in Greenwich are really playing catch up.

  4. Inde says:

    I don’t skate and I’m sure ( given my age) I never will. But I think a skate park around the lesser used outdoor gym would compliment the area well. I can see myself taking the kids to marvel at skills (that I’ll never reach!) whilst sipping a hot drink from the near by cafe. Who knows, it may actually give me more of a reason to spend more time in the village.

  5. Kate says:

    Anyone know how long this skatepark is likely to take to build, given also its unusual design and spec, and do skateparks normally cost this much? The Old Cottage Coffee Shop is bound to lose business while large trucks and construction noise and dust are right on top of it for months. I hope that the budget extends to compensation for loss of trade. They’ve worked their whatsits off to bring a great local community facility to what was a dormant area of the Park and deserve better.
    Also: why was Hornfair Park BMX area ignored as it has many advantages re access, buses etc?

    • Hello Kate:

      At the last stake holders consultation meeting held at Charlton House on 2nd March, they said the build time would be three to four months.

      Yes, from all the reading I’ve done £340K is a ballpark figure for a skate park. There isn’t anything especially unusual about the design or spec.

      Yes, Michael should talk to the council re compensation if trade is lost.

      • Max Maxwell says:

        The cafe owner may benefit from the trade from the skate park building contractors.

  6. Max Maxwell says:

    As an adult skater and local resident, I am for the skate park, the inclusion of a bowl in the design will attract other broom wielding adult skaters eager to prolong their youth. The perception that the skate park will be a urban concrete blight on a tranquil green space is a subjective narrow view that is being promoted by the newly formed single issue group (Friends of Charlton Park), formed solely to oppose the skate park. It would seem it isn’t really the concrete they are opposed to, but more the people they believe that it will attract. Their view of skateboarding and skaters is one that is formed on prejudice and ignorance. Firstly there are more adults skaters in this country than child skaters, these adults are passionate about skating and will travel great distances to skate fresh exciting concrete parks, they will bring in money to the local economy, buying lunch and refreshments from local businesses, and petrol from local garages. They do not tolerate badly behaved disruptive behavior that spoils their skate sessions. Skateboarders are evangelistic about skating, they love to share their passion with younger people and children, often teaching and encouraging other to have a go. I have personally seen many loitering youth encouraged to have a go at skateboarding, to then go on a get a deck and immerse themselves in the culture, giving them direction and self esteem and turning their lives around and in a more positive direction. I see from the Friends of Charlton Park’s website that they have posted anecdotal evidence supporting their concerns I could equally offer up many cases where skate parks have enhanced the communities where they have been built. They site Victoria Park in Hackney, The Level skate park in Brighton both of which I use regularly, both have been proven to be very successful, and on any given day will have non skaters stopping to spectate. Both are very well used, and both contributing to the local coffee shops immensely. Clissold skate park in Stoke Newington is very similar to the site proposed in many ways, very close to a historic House, relatively close to residential properties. It has become a major focal point of life in the park, with many picnic-ing on the landscaping overlooking the skate bowls enjoying the spectacle below. I hope that the planning committee recognise that adding a skate facility to the park will not detract from the park but will enhance the park and will encourage many more people to enjoy this beautiful space.

  7. Pingback: Charlton’s Hornfair Park BMX track: Fantastic or a flop? | The Charlton Champion

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