At least in heaven I can skate: Bid to turn church into skatepark unveiled

Sam Avery at the disused St Peter Parmentergate church in King Street, where he is moving his Drug S

Sam Avery at the disused St Peter Parmentergate church in King Street, where he is moving his Drug Store skate shop with an indoor skate park. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Things are on the up for skateboarding buffs long-deprived of city centre practice spots, as plans to convert an old Norwich church into a skatepark are unveiled.

Sam Avery, owner of the Drug Store on Bridewell Alley, submitted plans to Norwich City Council's planning portal on September 6, outlining his hopes to transform St Peter Parmentergate Church on King Street in to an indoor skatepark.

The 15th century building has stood empty for more than two years after the Norwich Martial Arts Academy moved out in 2018.

Sam Avery in the disused St Peter Parmentergate church in King Street, where he is moving his Drug S

Sam Avery in the disused St Peter Parmentergate church in King Street. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Sam Avery with some of his skateboards in the disused St Peter Parmentergate church in King Street,

Sam Avery with some of his skateboards in the disused St Peter Parmentergate church in King Street, - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

In the design and access statement, plans show that the nave would be used as a skateboarding training area, with classes from certified coaches.

The Drug Store shop would be in the chancel in the east side of the building, and a cafe at the western end of the nave.

Talking to the Evening News earlier this year, Mr Avery stressed that the city's "attitude" towards skaters needs to change, and that his church refurb would give them a space to practice safely and away from prying eyes.

He said: "With any group you have the odd bad kid but 99pc of skateboarders are pleasant, respectful people.

“But skating gets treated like an anti-social activity when it isn’t.

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"It actually has physical and mental health benefits. 

“Skateboarding came from the streets and it will always be a street activity. But skateparks are useful for people to be safe, to learn and practice."

Alex Williams, 21, was head of the skate society at UEA before graduating

Alex Williams, 21, was head of the skate society at UEA before graduating @shredwithshed - Credit: Harrison Plant @_andinthebinboy

The news is a welcome relief for 21-year-old skateboarding fanatic Alex Williams, who said existing out-of-city skateparks like Eaton were becoming "overcrowded" as skateboarders, roller skaters, BMXers and children on scooters vie for space.

The former president of UEA's skate society said: "I absolutely love what Sam is doing here. It's fantastic.

"Now skateboarding is in the Olympics it's become mad popular, and has helped legitimise the sport.

"But we'll never reach world class if we're just shouted away from every spot we use to practice.

How the indoor skatepark could look at the disused St Peter Parmentergate Church

How the indoor skatepark could look at the disused St Peter Parmentergate Church - Credit: Community East

How the indoor skatepark could look at the disused St Peter Parmentergate Church

How the indoor skatepark could look at the disused St Peter Parmentergate Church - Credit: Community East

What the new skatepark could look like inside

What the new skatepark could look like inside - Credit: Community East

"I think this skatepark will be good for the people who do find us a nuisance. The sound will be muffled, and it'll get people off the streets.

"Skating does wonders for people's mental health, and it truly is for everyone."

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