The Government has revealed what the new skatepark could look like at South Hill or Les Quennevais, ahead of a States Assembly vote on which site should be chosen.
Though the Economic Development Minister is arguing that South Hill Gardens should be the new park’s home, former Assistant Minister for Sport Senator Steve Pallett is standing by his belief the park should be built at Les Quennevais.
Politicians are scheduled to debate which site should be chosen next Tuesday 9 February.
Ahead of that, the Minister, Senator Lyndon Farnham, as well as Assistant Minister Hugh Raymond and Government officers, today unveiled the new concept designs for both South Hill Park and Les Quennevais, sharing why South Hill had become their preferred site.
Pictured: Officers said the design was made to fit in with the landscape around it.
Infrastructure, Housing and Environment Officer Oliver Brewster said the change of plan followed a “mix of vocal concern from internal and external stakeholders about the Les Quennevais site.”
He linked this to a desire for accessibility, saying it “is not a choice between South Hill Gardens or Les Quennevais Sports Centre – it’s more a choice of where the public, or where the States Assembly, feel it’s best to distribute the facilities across the island and how these may better correlate with the population distribution.”
A recent consultation with more than 2,500 islanders on where they would prefer the skatepark was also cited, with 59.8% of respondents saying they would prefer South Hill Gardens over Les Quennevais.
The Government's preference for South Hill comes despite the fact it would be more expensive than Les Quennevais.
Pictured: Officers said population density as a key motivator in moving their preference to Les Quennevais.
Officers said it would cost in the region of £1.2m, funded by the Government, with contributions from Ports of Jersey and the States of Jersey Development Company.
If States Members approve South Hill as the preferred site next week, Senator Farnham said a planning application would be lodged at the end of February, with the build starting at the beginning of August, and the facility open by the end of January 2022.
However, Senator Steve Pallett, who last month put forward a proposition to push through with the original plan to build the skatepark built at Les Quennevais, argues that “South Hill is not a suitable option for the new main skatepark for Jersey,” arguing that not enough consultation had been done and that the only way the park “can realistically happen is to proceed with Les Quennevais and not change track and consider an alternative site.”
He added that “to move to another site will involve a similar degree of consultation that was carried out for Les Quennevais Sports Centre, and that will undoubtedly require several months to complete" - though IHE Director Andrew Scate said that the consultation would take place within the planning process once designs are submitted.
Pictured: A concept design of what the skate park could look like if it was at Les Quennevais.
Regardless of which site is chosen, the main skatepark will be complemented by a number of 'satellite' skating sites around the island - small areas with a single skate-friendly obstacle or feature, such as banks and curbs.
A May 2020 presentation unearthed following a recent request under the Freedom of Information Law showed that, under the original plan, satellite sites at Millennium Park, South Hill, People's Park, Victoria Avenue and St. Andrew's Park were all under consideration alongside a main park at Les Quennevais. It also touted a possible facility at Le Rocquier.
Among the reasons cited for not favouring a location in St. Helier were as follows.
Les Quennevais, meanwhile, was deemed preferable for the following reasons.
The only disadvantage listed in the presentation was "not in St. Helier."
Jersey Skateparks Association, which have been consulted on the proposals, appeared to welcome the South Hill site plans.
They said: "We are still working on this as there are more elements to add. The bowl section on [South Hill Gardens] is raised up high which also allows for an excellent viewing platform across the rest of the site looking west/southwest. There are some large natural elements due to the topography of the site. This is what we meant by stating the site was more “dynamic."
"There is more work to be done but it’s looking good."
A skatepark isn't the only major revamp looking likely in the South Hill area - the former Environment and Planning office building is being considered for housing or tourism use, with funds from its sale potentially going towards reducing the Government's covid debt.
Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.
Once your comment has been submitted, it won’t appear immediately. There is no need to submit it more than once. Comments are published at the discretion of Bailiwick Publishing, and will include your username.