Construction of a new skatepark at Les Quennevais Sports Centre will start in January after plans were unanimously approved by the Planning Committee this morning.
Les Quennevais was one of two locations picked by the Government for the creation of new skateparks, along with South Hill for which plans are still being developed, after the closure of the New North Quay facility.
Earlier this year, former Assistant Minister for Sport, Senator Steve Pallett, and the Economic Development Minister, Senator Lyndon Farnham, were each arguing for the former and the latter respectively.
Before States Members could get a chance to vote on their preferred location, both politicians however reached a last-minute truce and agreed to submit planning applications for both sites.
Pictured: The plans for the skatepark at South Hill are still under development.
Plans for Les Quennevais were the first to be published in late February proposing to build a 2,000sqm open-air concrete skatepark at the north-west of the playing fields, along with the creation of an accessible public toilets and a community space within an existing pavilion building.
Plans also included spectator areas, bicycle parking, water fountains, litter bins, safe pedestrian access and landscaping, along with three areas of ecological enhancement.
It was proposed the site would be lit up using floodlights equipped with motion sensors up until 22:00 and monitored by CCTV 24/7.
A large number of people attended the Planning Committee hearing this morning but the Chair, Constable Philip Le Sueur only allowed four people to speak in favour of or against the application.
Alan Miller and Sean Le Breuilly, of the Caesarean Cycling Club, both voiced support for the creation of the facility but raised concerns about its impact on the cycling track.
Mr Miller said the safety aspects of circuit had been “eroded” because of the introduction of other services on the site and that the new application had “no regards” for the riders’ or the public safety.
Mr Le Breuilly also raised concerns about the lack of parking, noting it was already “nearly impossible to park on busy evenings”. He said planners should have taken transportation, parking and safe access to the skatepark into account.
One resident spoke on behalf of a group of neighbours and raised concerns about traffic, parking, antisocial behaviour and noise, noting that the “constant drum from 08:00 to 21:00” was a big concern for residents.
“We are not exactly against it but Don Farm is not the place,” she said.
Constable Le Sueur noted over 300 letters of support had been sent to the Planning Department and urged those supporting the application to focus on planning matters.
Pictured: 300 letters of support were sent to Planning about the skatepark.
However, 13-year-old Fred Mayer-Smith delivered a passionate speech explaining he had “thought and dreamed about [the skatepark] for five years” and had been “stressing out because so many of the Government’s promises have not been fulfilled”.
“I can’t believe that we are about to get something that looks as good as the best parks I have skated in [the UK and France],” he said.
Oliver Brewster, a Principal Engineer for IHE and Project Manager for the skatepark, said the department would be happy to discuss issues in further detail with the cycling club and to adopt further measures “to ensure there’s a solution agreeable to all”.
He also said the comments of residents had been taken into account and an earth bund added to the plans to reduce noise. He also added that community facilities “improve crime within the community” as the “children and young people blamed for that often just need to be heard and respected”.
He assured that construction would only have a small impact on the cycling track but added there was an allowance for any repairs that might become necessary.
Daco Fernandes, the Vice Chairman of Jersey Skateboard Association, said the designers behind the plans had designed over 100 parks including in “urban settings and very sensitive areas”. He said building the park in concrete would ensure there is no noise coming from it and that people “would be amazed at how quiet it is going to be”.
The Committee unanimously approved the plans with Constable Le Sueur saying it was “relatively easy” to make a decision given that the location was so remote it was not going to have a detrimental effect on neighbours, a view shared by the Constable of St. Lawrence, Deirdre Mezbourian. She noted the skatepark would be 200m away from neighbours in one direction and 270m in the other direction and that the location within an “established sports complex” was a good one.
Deputy Jeremy Maçon also approved the plans, along with St. Clement Constable Marcus Troy, a self-confessed skateboard fan, who recommended the creation of a user group and of a calendar of events to ensure there is “as little conflict as possible” between cycling events and the skatepark.
“This is by far the best location in the island,” he added.
The plans were approved under the condition that a “proper finish” be laid for the footpath, as requested by Deputy Maçon, and the cycling track is resurfaced if it becomes damaged.
Deputy Hugh Raymond, the Assistant Minister with responsibility for sport, welcomed the decision.
“The preparation work is progressing well and opening the park by late spring next year remains a top priority for the team,” he said.
“Meanwhile plans are being developed for the proposed park at South Hill, which will need to fit with the wider plans for that area. While this park won’t be ready at the same time as Les Quennevais, we have budget allocated in the next Government Plan and are committed to delivering this second park, plus other facilities in rural parishes.”
Karl Payne, who chairs the Jersey Skateparks Association, added: “This is fantastic news - not just for the extensive network of skatepark-users, but also the entire community here in Jersey. Urban sports are becoming increasingly popular on the Island, but the availability of suitable purpose-built facilities has not kept up with this demand. With this new facility, we hope to see urban sports flourish, and more elite athletes progress from Jersey.”
The procurement process for a construction contractor is currently underway with an appointment due to be made by the end of the year. It is expected that work will be able to start in January, for the skatepark to be completed by the end of May 2022.
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