Bid for 'international standard' skatepark after airport estate sale
- Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021
A vision has been put to the table to create an international standard skatepark in the city to inspire the next generation of Team GB athletes.
The sale of the Norwich Airport Industrial Estate has raised the prospect of building a skatepark which would serve the north of the city and beyond.
Steve Morphew, Labour leader at Norfolk County Council, has tabled a motion at the next full council meeting to put forward the bid, which he believes will help shape future generations of Olympic and Paralympic talent.
The £1m skatepark at Oxhey Activity Park near Watford is among the facilities which has inspired the idea.
But it is not expected a facility in Norwich would cost anything like that sum.
The Airport Industrial Estate, to the south of Norwich International Airport, is jointly owned by Norfolk County Council and Norwich City Council.
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Mr Morphew, who motion has been seconded by fellow councillor Colleen Walker, will call on the council to give some "serious thought" for a skatepark there which would cater for all abilities.
He said: "There is a bit of land there which is in the right place with reasonable access in the north part of the city as well as for suburbs such as Sprowston and Hellesdon.
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"It would also be accessible on the NDR for north Norfolk and would bring an international standard facility to Norfolk on the back of the Olympics success. There is potential there so why not?"
Mr Morphew has tabled the idea for the September 27 meeting, but wants the council debate postponed until November to test the level of public - and councillor - support.
He recalled a real desire for a skating facility in Eaton Park before it was built in 2010 while he was city council leader.
Sam Avery, who runs the Drug Store skateboarding shop on Bridewell Alley in Norwich has also backed the plans for a new skating and BMX facility.
"There is a huge demand that far outweighs facilities currently available in Norwich," Mr Avery said.
"The north side of the city hasn't got any free outdoor space for skateboarding so that seems a logical place to build a skatepark."
Norwich's skating links
Mr Avery has recently unveiled plans for an indoor skatepark at the disused St Peter Parmentergate church in King Street.
He has long campaigned for Norwich to become a more “skate-friendly” city and was involved with the build of Eaton skatepark in 2010.
The Eaton skatepark was funded through an £8m investment agreement with the Homes and Communities Agency.
The city council said it was proud of the "popular facility" which was designed to national competition standard.
But Mr Avery and skaters have called for more to be done to address the provision in the city.
Charge Unit skatepark was opened in 2013 as Norwich’s only indoor skatepark.
But the facility was closed after owner Andrew Biss searched for someone to secure its survival.
Mr Biss invested £100,000 in buying various ramps and equipment for the Delta Close venue, but the business was put on the market for just £10,000 in February 2020.
But the Delta Four Skatepark has now been given a new lease of life by BMX riders Max Ward and Joe Foster after 10 months of hard work and renovations.
After opening in April, the facility is open seven days a week and caters for all abilities.
It is open to BMX, scooter, skateboard, in-line skating, quad skating and WCMX.
For more information on Delta Four Skatepark, visit www.deltafourskatepark.co.uk/
What does Mr Morphew's motion call for?
Mr Mophew's motion says there is now an opportunity to build an "international standard skatepark for Norfolk".
It does two things:
- Urges cabinet to retain a suitable site from the sale of the airport estate and use part of the sale proceeds from the remainder towards building an international skatepark.
- Requests officers to develop a scheme in conjunction with the skateboarding community for an operational model based on a community business that could manage a new skatepark without relying on county council revenue funding.
He said that, while we should take great pride in our athletes, just four of the 375 Olympic Team GB athletes were from Norfolk - 1.4pc of the total.
Of the Paralympic Team GB, there were 215 athletes, of which three were from Norfolk - 1.1pc.