Sittingbourne will be home to a new multi-use skatepark after Swale Borough Council agreed to release £200,000 funding for the scheme.
The idea for a skatepark was first suggested in 2011 for the site next to the Mill Way Retail Park, by a group of young people fed up with having nowhere to go.
Since then, more than £300,000 has been secured to design and build the park, with much of that funding dependent on a Trust coming forward to run the park independently of the council.
A group led by Brogdale CIC and including Amicus Horizon, McCabe Ford Williams, Swale Young People, Bird and Pest Solutions and Cllr Mike Whiting, developed its business plan which has agreed by the council.
Brogdale CIC – a local community interest company – will work with the young people who have been campaigning for a skatepark for the town, to create a top class facility and a hub of activity and local enterprise.
As well as being used for regular day-to-day activities, the plans include hosting annual events and providing training and enterprise opportunities for local young people.
Rebecca O'Neill, managing director of Brogdale CIC said,
"This is a great opportunity to answer the requests of young people in Swale for youth facilities. We have a great plan for the site and are looking forward to working with the council to create the park.
"There is a lot of work still to be done to get the land transferred, to obtain detailed planning permission and meet the environmental needs laid down by KCC and the Environment Agency, however, we will do all we can to push forward."
Cllr Ken Pugh, cabinet member for housing and wellbeing at the council, said:
"When we asked for a trust to come forward to run the site, we were looking for someone who would simply manage the site safely and keep it clean and tidy.
"However, Brogdale CIC came to us with an impressive plan, which went well beyond these basic requirements.
"They are looking to add genuine value and purpose to the site, offering real training and skills opportunities for the users - as well as finally providing the facilities the young people have been working towards for so long.
"With Brogdale and the park users direct involvement in the way the site is run, I am confident this will be a real asset to the town, and local young people, for years to come."
Dave Green, who has been involved in the skatepark plans, said:
“In 2011 I was asked by my son Daniel to help build a skate park in Sittingbourne due to the youngsters not having anywhere to go with their skateboards.
"Being an ex-skater from years gone by I felt it was about time Swale had something to be proud of. Over 5 years of hard work and dedication by a mixed bunch its well on its way to being built, I just wish we could have had a park 45 years ago.
"The site will not only be a place for our community but it will bring a lot of business and interest from outside our area.
"It is already a proven fact that skateparks work for the whole family and helps children socialize, become educated and grounded by being part of this type of community.
"The most important thing for me is that a skate park is impartial to age, disability, ethnicity, religious / political beliefs, or gender. If you persevere you can achieve anything in life, just sometimes it takes a while."
The council released £200,000 of funding towards the site, following a decision in March last year, on the condition that a trust could be found to manage and maintain the park. Outline planning permission has already been agreed, and detailed plans are expected to come to the council for planning permission by Spring.
Brogdale CIC will now work with Swale Borough Council to appoint a contractor to design and build the park.
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