The future of a skate park in Winchester has been secured by the city council.

The skate park, at the former River Park Leisure Centre, has been the subject of a petition to save it from being disposed of as part of the redevelopment of the area.

At a recent full meeting of Winchester City Council, it was confirmed that the council had secured the leaseback of the skate park following discussions with Winchester School of Art and users of the facility.

At the meeting, Cllr Kelsie Learney said: “I got my first skateboard over 40 years ago and if I’d been able to access a facility such as River Park rather than ramshackle ramps made out of old pallets I might have got the hang of turning round at the top rather than having a flying skateboard threatening to decapitate anyone within 10m.

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“I would like to say their was never a threat to the skate park. The leader and I met with leaders of the skate community this week with Professor Lynch from the School of Art. We had a conversation about integrating the new facility with the park. The university has said the skate park is a benefit for the School of Art rather than a detriment.

“What a great facility we have in River Park. Not only do young people use it throughout the district and beyond but there is a real community of skateboarders, BMXers and scooter users who help keep it tidy and encourage beginners to get going.

“Having taken account of the feedback, the proposed arrangements with the university now include the provision for the council to take the lease back of the skate park. This will ensure the continuation of the skatepark under the council’s management and I hope will satisfy the petitioner.”

Cllr John Tippett-Cooper was pleased to hear that the council had come to this arrangement. He said: “Parents of Winchester adore the skate park as a free place where their children can spend countless hours unglued form their mobile devices.

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“In the current River Park Leisure Centre site, the skate park provides the most social value. It is a fantastic community asset. The leaseback makes the council the freehold owner of the skate park, so will have full control of it. So the skate park is safe and guaranteed for the future.”

Cllr Frank Pearson said: “It's a shame the university were not clear about what it had intended to do with the site. The city really needs better and more outdoor recreation provisions for young people.”

In Cllr Learney's conclusion, she said: “I'm really pleased that everyone in this room is in support of this.”


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