Skatepark debate, June 17th

Plans developed by a group of local parents and children for a skatepark in Telegraph Hill are to be debated at the upcoming Telegraph Hill Ward Assembly, next Thursday, June 17th at Haberdashers Aske's Hatcham College, Jerningham Road, SE14 5NY from 7pm - 9pm.

There are a number of somewhat hysterical arguments being made against the park. The suggestion that it would lead to gangs, crime and anti-social behaviour misses the point that skateboarders are interested in their sport, which provides a positive outlet for their energy. It's also a scenario which seems more inspired by the Daily Mail than the reality of skate facilities in places like Ladywell, which are friendly and well-used.

However, there are also some very reasonable concerns being raised about the scale and location of the facility, which is proposed for the Upper Park - a beautiful and evocative setting, with housing located right next to it and few walls to screen the likely noise.

Over on The Telegraph Hill Forum, SPAG campaigners have been at pains to stress that they want to work with the community, to create an appropriate park. Campaigner Sophie explained:

The proposed design would take up about 1/4 of the lower slopes just below the picnic benches and parallel to the path. It would be made of free form concrete which is sunk into the ground and which is the quietest material that can be used. This is very low impact and will be designed in such a way as to be as sensitive to the local landscape as possible. Please do not imagine the steel & wood skate parks which are noisy, large and ugly. Ours will be sleek, low and architecturally very attractive, we think!

The large flat piece of grass next to the tennis courts is sometimes used by people picnicking when the weather is hot. I believe most people would still be happy to sit there especially as that wonderful view into the city would not be affected. I am not denying that there may well be the clanking of boards in the near distance but surely that is better than what is happening at the moment; many residents being aggravated by boys skating on the streets right outside their sitting rooms. As well as the real danger of a serious accident happening in one of these roads. Of course when in use there would be an element of noise which will be minimized and dampened by the material used and also the long steep bank of grass, trees and open space. And probably no louder than a game of football on the upper terrace and a full tennis court...

This proposal has got to this stage quite quickly it's true and we need to spend our funding within a few months or it will be lost. So whether we like it or not there is an element of pressure to find a suitable site as quickly as possible...

As has been said before these parks are for the use of everyone and there is absolutely no reason why having a small skate park situated in the upper park should have a detrimental effect on any other user be it jogger, dog walker, young families, tennis players or anyone else who wanted to use it for quiet contemplation. There will be many hours of the day/eve when the skate park will not be in use.

The one thing we have not managed to do yet and I must fully take responsibility for this on behalf of all of us in SPAG, is to try and speak with as many people as possible who live close to the proposed site and to explain in detail our plans. We are drawing up some literature and hope to rectify this as soon as possible...

We will only go ahead with this if we have the majority of local residents behind us as that is the only fair thing to do. We are not trying to push this through on the quiet; in fact we asked the LA to have a more thorough public consultation before allowing this to go to a vote.

Wherever this facility is finally sited, undoubtedly it will not please everyone but hopefully by seeing our plans and having a calm, measured, thoughtful discussion we can come to an agreed position.