Skateboarders, BMXers, inline skaters and scooter riders are celebrating after an application to build a new skatepark in Stamford was approved.
Campaigners clapped and cheered when the plans were unanimously approved by South Kesteven District Council’s development control committee at a meeting in Grantham yesterday (Tuesday).
Councillors defied the advice of planning officers, who recommended the plans for a skatepark on the Recreation Ground be refused because of concerns over noise.
The plans were submitted by Stamford Town Council on behalf of the Stamford Skatepark Committee, which has raised £150,000 for the new concrete skatepark since the old wooden ramps were taken down because of safety concerns in 2008.
The council chamber in Grantham was packed with skatepark supporters eager to see the new park given the green light.
Youngsters filled the seats normally taken up by councillors and could be seen counting the votes on their fingers and grinning as it became clear the decision was going to go their way.
Fourteen people spoke to the development control committee in support of the skatepark plans, along with three people who objected.
The youngest to speak was Bourne Grammar School pupil Hector Clack, 11, who took a petition signed by 140 youngsters aged seven to 11 backing the park.
Hector, who lives in Stamford, said he had been skating for two years and loved his sport, which he practised hard to improve at.
He added: “I spend a lot of time visiting skateparks and most towns have one in their local park. Even my grandma has one in her park.
“I have nowhere to skate in Stamford so I skate in car parks and on the kerb outside my house. I know this is dangerous and my mum and dad worry about me in case I get hit by a car.
“I want a skatepark in the Recreation Ground because it is a safe place for me and my friends to go and I don’t have to rely on my parents to take me there.”
Hector also invoked the Olympic motto “Inspire a Generation”, saying: “Please inspire my generation and give us a skatepark in a safe place where children of all ages can get to and enjoy their sport.”
Stamford Skatepark Committee member Laurie Copley, 16, also spoke at the meeting. The Bourne Grammar School sixthformer said it was unfair that Melton Mowbray, a town of 21,000 people, had two skateparks while Stamford, a town of 20,000 people, had none.
Laurie added: “The Recreation Ground is the perfect place for the skatepark.”
Peter Heyes, Dominic Glazebrook and Vic Abbott, who live near the Recreation Ground, spoke to object against the plans.
Mr Heyes, who represents the Stamford Recreation Ground Residents’ Association, said he was in favour of a skatepark but wanted it in a different location.
Mr Glazebrook raised his voice as he vowed to fight the plans and threatened councillors with legal action if they approved the application.
And Mr Abbott said the skatepark would be detrimental to the character of the Recreation Ground.
But skatepark committee chairman Marc Stanier tried to reassure residents and councillors that the new concrete facility would be quieter than the old wooden ramps.
He also pointed out that the committee had agreed to put fencing with a lockable gate around the park and install CCTV to prevent anti-social behaviour.
Mr Stanier said the skatepark committee would make sure there were no problems with the park once it was built.
A number of public figures spoke in support of the plans, including district councillors Jean Bevan and Ian Selby, Stamford town councillor Maureen Jalili, Lincolnshire county councillor and former mayor of Stamford, David Brailsford, former Stamford town councillor and mayor John Judge, and chairman of governors at Stamford Queen Eleanor School Jonathan Selwyn.
Also speaking in favour of the skatepark were parent Ian Weeks, Rotarian George Hetherington, Trinity Methodist Church youth outreach worker Luke Denley, Stamford resident Egerton Gilman and planning agent Robert Weighton.
Development control committee members said they understood the concerns about noise raised by neighbours and planning officers, but were determined to approve the application and give youngsters their skatepark.
Coun Michael King (Con), who represents the Toller ward, proposed approval with a number of conditions to show councillors had taken on board the officers’ concerns and to ensure noise would be limited as much as possible.
In a recorded vote, every member of the committee chose to approve the skatepark plans.
The exact wording of the conditions will be decided by planning officers and the chairman and vice chairman of the committee.