‘To be honest I’m speechless’: £500,000 skate park plans handed last minute reprive
Richard Youle, local democracy reporter
Supporters of a £500,000 skate park project which looked to have hit the buffers have been handed a dramatic reprieve.
Late last week Llannon Community Council said it was withdrawing a planning application for the facility on the outskirts of Tumble, Carmarthenshire.
It was the third location which had been proposed for the skate park, and was earmarked on a flat area of hard-standing in Mynydd Mawr Woodland Park.
But opposition was mounting among a number of residents because it was right beside a well-used circular walk which encloses a large meadow.
This in turn caused concern for skate park supporters because likely delays in determining the application would mean a National Lottery funding application deadline would again be missed.
Now, less than a week after announcing it was pulling the application, the community council said a funding deadline extension had been agreed.
Community council chairman Michael Jones said he and colleagues had been trying to find a solution.
“We are delighted to announce we have received correspondence today (August 18) confirming a further extension of our National Lottery Community Fund application deadline to explore the development further,” he said.
“The (skate) park must be in Tumble to satisfy the funding criteria so we will look again at suitable locations within our control.
“Consultations will be carried out in various formats during September, and we urge all residents to take part.”
The scheme has been taken forward and promoted for years by a group called Urban Riot Sports Park, which spoke of its devastation after the planning application withdrawal.
A Facebook post from the group said it was ceasing its activities – but it is now very much back in play.
The group’s chairman, skateboarder James Dexter, said of the funding application extension: “It’s amazing – absolutely incredible.
“To be honest I’m quite speechless. It means the absolute world to us.”
The 26-year-old thanked the community council and the county council, which has pledged £250,000 towards the skate park, for their support.
Mr Dexter said the group had received numerous messages of support after the planning application withdrawal announcement.
The reprieve does not mean the project will definitely go ahead as planning consent will be needed and the views of residents and other parties have to be taken into account.
Ruth Davies, of volunteer group Friends of Mynydd Mawr Woodland, was among those who didn’t want the skate park to be built by the meadow.
She felt a better location within the 80-acre park for the facility was an area nearer the car park which is earmarked for mountain biking and recreation.
She and others also said the skate park needed infrastructure such as toilets and CCTV.
Skateboarding made its debut in the Tokyo Olympics, with 13-year-old Sky Brown claiming bronze for Great Britain in the women’s park skateboarding final.
Llannon councillor Emlyn Dole, who is also a community councillor and the leader of Carmarthenshire Council, said earlier this week that a top-class skate park was not the sort of facility that a deprived area like the Gwendraeth Valley normally benefited from.
Cllr Dole has offered support to Riot Urban Sports Spark members over the years, but also said the concerns of residents must be listened to.
The facility was initially proposed in Tumble Park but was moved to a different area within it for ecology reasons. But the second location identified was nearer to people’s homes, sparking objections. That led to the proposal for Mynydd Mawr.
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