Sports for homes?

The skate park in Saffron Walden is a fantastic, nationally acclaimed facility that plugs a real gap for youth activities. It is one of the ‘modern-jewels’ in the town’s crown and residents are quite rightly proud of it. But it has recently put itself in the middle of a political and community battle over housing that seems to be causing division.

Kier Homes has been co-opting local skateboard enthusiasts to help push their 300 house development on farmland off Thaxted Rd in Saffron Walden. The skate park management committee had believed that Kier were going to build them a £1 million extension to the nationally acclaimed and well supported park. But it seems that all may not be quite what they believed.

We understand that Kier are now not proposing to build the skate park extension, only the supporting concrete facilities buildings underneath it, such as the toilets and café. Considering that similar facilities exist next-door in the Butler Leisure Centre, it would seem a more cost effective option to just grant public access to those rather than waste money by building new if there is to be no funding for a skate park extension.

With regard to the expansion of the skate park, it seems that others are not happy with the proposed plans to double it in size. The Saffron Walden Town Council, who already foots the bill for operating the existing park, says that the town doesn’t need a bigger park and that it isn’t interested in maintaining an expanded bit of the skate park.  They said that if the Kier houses were granted (which they oppose) that they’d want any section-106 infrastructure investment allocated to other projects. It seems that by trying to grab all of the leisure infrastructure investment from Kier, the skate park management committee could actually lose the existing the facility they already have.

Those who live nearby also seem to have concerns and there have been a number of letters in the local papers. Here is one recently written in the Walden Local (page 10) by someone unconnected to WeAreResidents.org:

It beggars belief that these people are completely ignoring the genuine concerns of those living nearby. If people were to take the time to read everything the committee have put on paper regarding the hub and extension they will see quite clearly that the issue of noise nuisance and quality of life to neighbours is of no importance to them. Their correspondence focuses on what they want and the rest of us can take a hike! We just get noise, noise, noise. I implore UDC planners – no skate park extension please!

No one wants to see the existing skate park fail because it is an excellent facility that fills a youth gap. By hitching their wagon to a huge and highly unpopular housing development, the park has put itself in the line of fire, which is a shame. But at least the issue has now raised the broader discussion as to which recreation and sports activities and groups should benefit from any infrastructure investment that comes with new housing.

This story is likely to hot up again soon as Kier submit their soon-to-be-expected full development application.

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Posted in Families and Youth, News, Planning Application News, Sports, Uttlesford Local Plan
13 comments on “Sports for homes?
  1. Tom Bacon says:

    Residents of Saffron Walden are boring, arrogant, selfish cunts with the belief that change is bad.

    Hopefully a skateboarder will fuck them up…

    • Your language and attitude is a bit inappropriate Tom. Good points and discussion from people below though.

    • joe says:

      This kind of attitude is exactly what locals are opposing. It is unbelievable that this person expects to be taken seriously when obviously he has yet to grow up. I know first hand what it is like for those who live next to the existing skate park in Saffron Walden and let me tell you this with absolute certainty. If the skate park extension is allowed to go ahead it will most certainly increase the Police call outs as the trouble and problems will increase with the extension. I feel sorry for those who live so close to it as all we seem to hear about is the ‘benefits’ of this proposal and not about the negatives. The real problem is that whereas other sports near properties are usually for approx. 2 hours the skate park is open for a minimum of 12 hours a day, possibly longer, and this is harsh on those who live next to it. Get real Mr Bacon and wise up….You already have a wonderful facility, stop being selfish and greedy and learn one of the most important things in life….It is not all about you and what you want, consider others for a change. This also applies to everyone considering the skate park extension.

  2. Mikey says:

    What really beggars belief is how close minded people can be, although I guess buying your kids computer games, the latest brain melting music and other nonsense keeps them quiet and out the way, skateboarding promotes respect, trust, self worth, friendship as well as a world more. As someone who has to travel to get there i cant believe that such an amazing place could be built and then shunned by the locals, you really don’t know how good you’ve got it there. It seems the people living around the park are unsettled, well let me say I’ve been to hundreds of skate parks, and very few with as warm and friendly vibe, with age groups varying from 4-40 years old at least! And noise?? Are you up against your wall with a tumbler? Get a grip. It astounds me that place gets so many complaints with such a lovely bunch of people who actually use it. And with regards to what’s been proposed, promised, lied about and now theres talk of getting rid of the facility too? The world is truly not a playground it’s a building site, even in sunny saffy. Sad times indeed.

    • I’m not sure it is being shunned by locals. It is a great facility, a huge asset to the town and there are always people there enjoying it. It is difficult to say it is shunned by the town when the running costs are paid for by the local residents that pay their council taxes – and I don’t hear anyone saying pull the funding from running it. I guess the question that people seem to be raising in the local papers is, if we already have a nationally acclaimed skate park, shouldn’t any infrastructure investment from new housing be invested in other activities that have no voice? For example the Saffron Walden rugby club’s fields are villages away. And what about rock-climbing walls, and cycle routes? Why don’t we have a running track? It would seem that there should be dibs for some other great activities that keep people outside and fit as well. I guess that’s their point, and they’re entitled to it too.

  3. Chris Shaw says:

    Wouldn’t it be better if the kids of this town had a place to go in a safe environment rather than traveling all around to places like Harlow or Cambridge just to enjoy their hobby. I think the people who live around the park are selfish to think that it’s their quality of life that they are only interested in. What about the youngsters quality of life? They’re out getting exercise and keeping fit while all the residents near the park do nothing but sit around their house and complain. GO OUT AND DO SOMETHING

  4. Ian Sumner says:

    Why would anyone get rid of the skate park? I myself spent a lot of my free time helping to get the skate park up and running and was a skater until being involved in an RTA, stopping me from skating due to back issues. I think its a stupid idea to get rid of it . So who would pay all the people back for the money raised to build it? or the time spent making it happen and the park builders time and travel costs and so on . The expansion would make it quieter as the skaters would be more spread out over a wider area. The hub is a great idea as it would give the youths somewhere to go with their friends, as all other things in the town for the youth to do have been shut down. So it stands to reason that some where for them to go would be a good idea would it not? I lived in saffron walden for most of my life as a kid and there was NOTHING to do in the town; now there is so why try to get rid of it? The 3rd best skate park in Europe!! is that not something to be proud of??!!

    • I haven’t heard anyone saying that they’d get rid of such a great facility. It seems that the Town Council is just making the point that there are other activities in town that have no funding and so it would be difficult for the Town Council to justify doubling the maintenance costs of the skate park when there are other sports needs. Some groups have nothing. At least skaters have somewhere to go. A diverse community relies on a diverse set of options and activities….

  5. Clark Gable says:

    It would be interesting to hear how the residents who are complaining about skatepark noise feel about the project being replaced with a rugby club…
    I couldn’t think of a bigger mistake for that area, rugby clubs bring noise, mud, and drunks and the last thing we need is drunken people unnatended in a concrete skate park…

  6. Matt Walrond says:

    The idea of a Rugby club replacing the plans proposed (and greatly opposed) seems ridiculous, especially with their point-making appearance last week, which received more complaints regarding NOISE than the skatepark has collectively for a long time. There’s no doubt that the club needs a better facility and I hope they’re successful in finding one, just somewhere that’s appropriate and won’t cause more troubles for local residents, some of which are pointed out by Mr. Gable below.

    It’d be a great shame if Kier truly have dropped their proposal for the HUB other than toilet/cafe facilities… It goes without saying that there’s now a massive void when it comes to recreational and extra-learning facilities for the youth of the local area, it sounds cheesy and clichéd but the HUB really could have the potential to fill that void and maybe even build some bridges between generations as a whole.

  7. nate d says:

    Only reason sports like rugby are making it up the agenda is because the council can claim tax off all the clubs abd it nakes a nice picture on the back off the Walden local, when these kinds of facilities will only be used a few times each week and by a small group of people. Besides there’s plenty of other already existing facilities in the town such as Herberts Farm, county high and friends school. And the idea of a rock climbing wall? Guarantee it will get used oncen a blue moon and go derelict. The skatepark is a relatively low maintenance investment which will last decades and be usedby thousands of people, boosting the towns tourism. A sports pitch would require constant turf care meaning the council would have to pay someone to maintain the pitch and clubhouse. Also addressing the comments on the noise, why. Or plant trees around the park?

  8. mattlnorth says:

    I think there’s a lot of confused people commenting on this post who don’t appear to have read it properly. I am a supporter of WeAreResidents.org and I am also a big fan of the skatepark. I take my kids there and think it has a really unique atmosphere especially where the older kids look out for the younger ones. There’s nothing written here or anywhere to say that WeAreResidents are anti the skatepark or even anti extension but it is making two valid points: 1. It’s bad for developers to appear to promise stuff to communities (such as skating off a roof) to get them onside with their houses when it has no intention of delivering them; and 2. If money is being put into infrastructure or community facilities for the town then the Town Council should be involved to make sure that the towns priorities are met – not just the group that got to the developer first.
    The only risk of the skatepark closing down is due to its management running off and dreaming up these plans without consulting the people responsible for its maintenance (the town council). That is hardly the fault of anyone else.

  9. Saffy says:

    As someone who actually lives very close to the skatepark I feel that I have to reply to the people who clearly have no idea of the negative impact on the neighbours of the park.

    As for the comments about the noise, no we do not listen with tumblers, the noise is so bad, from people using the turning as a cut-through with the almost-constant grinding and bangs as well as shouting. That doesn’t include the noise from the park itself, which often carries quite a way. It’s so bad that in the summer I can’t have my daughters bedroom window open as the noise keeps her awake.

    Litter has also increased and kids zooming up and down the road show no respect for cars or pedestrians. Whilst we appreciate that most users are ok, there are plenty that give the rest a bad name.

    It wouldn’t be so bad if the park had an actual closing time that was enforceable, as it stands over the recent good weather we have had noise up until 11pm. Similar facilities close at around 8pm which would be more acceptable.

    Personally leave the area as it is, people can walk their dogs or kids can play without causing more upset and distress to local residents.

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