A long-awaited skate park has been officially opened in Aldershot after a series of obstacles including neighbour concerns and even bats were overcome.
The £165,000 facility in Manor Park was opened by the mayor of Rushmoor Councillor Diane Bedford and other councillors on Saturday (June 21), as skaters tried it out for the first time.
The skate park was more than three years in the making, after being approved by Rushmoor Borough Council in April 2011, a decision that angered neighbours who feared anti-social behaviour would increase as a result.
Complaints were made to the council, both vocally in the development control meeting and afterwards, arguing that the decision to approve its construction was undemocratic and that concerns had been ignored.
A further problem was posed when the council was forced to investigate whether the building of the park would have impacted on bats, a protected species, in nearby trees.
As well as by the council, the park was funded by a £79,500 contribution from Sport England, £60,000 from Sita Trust and money paid by developers as part of agreements when obtaining planning permission for other schemes.
It was designed in part by the skaters who will use it. The concrete facility, replaces old wooden ramps, which were located at the top end of the park, as these had become unsafe for users. Built by Fearless Ramps, it will be longer-lasting and requires less ongoing maintenance.
In response to the concerns from neighbours Rushmoor Borough Council re-located the new facility further into the park and away from homes but still close to the existing site.
Councillor Bedford said: “It is lovely to see a well-used facility like this situated within a busy park.
“The versatile young people, involved in the project, have been very patient waiting for the new design to be built following the removal of the old park, which had reached the end of its life.
“We are very grateful to Sita Trust and Sport England for the funding for this project. Without it, projects like this wouldn’t happen.”
SITA Trust provided funding through the Landfill Communities Fund, generated through taxes paid when waste is taken to landfill. Sport England is focused on helping people and communities across the country create a sporting habit for life.
Dan White, a user of the new skate park, said: “I believe the park has benefited the local community in many ways.
“Kids now have a new place to go and hang out and it's also a big opportunity to promote extreme sports in a friendly environment.”