Hailsham skate park plan sparks ‘ghetto’ fear

OPPOSITION is growing over plans to build a skatepark in Hailsham.

The Town Farm Residents Association and Hailsham Town Council are behind plans to build a new reinforced concrete skate park in the south west corner of the Maurice Thornton Playing Fields in Vega Close.

But the blueprint has already been met with opposition from residents living nearby who fear it will become a noisy “ghetto” and lead to unwanted problems with anti-social behaviour.

People living in nearby Marshfoot Lane, Vega Close and Observatory View say the proposed site behind the Hailsham East Community Centre is an area which is residential and quiet and already has traffic congestion with Marshlands School during the week and with football at the weekends.

They are worried that bikes, skateboards and scooters will be banging, thumping and clanking on the course and it would become a 24-hour hotspot with unacceptable noise and social disturbances.

The plans are to be considered by Wealden District Council in the next few weeks. This is the second time the skatepark issue has come before planners.

A first draft plan was approved for the site in October 2010 but the new application boldly asks for a larger skate park at the location.

If the new application is approved by Wealden District Council, the skate park will be named after Tony Tack, the former chairman of Town Farm Residents Association.

Sports-mad Mr Tack, a Christian called Mr Motivator by his son Steve, was a respected youth rights champion who campaigned to get better facilities for children, such as a play park at Maurice Thornton costing £100,000.

He sadly died in March 2010.

A planning statement due to go before Wealden’s planning committee said, “It is the aim of TFRA in conjunction with Hailsham Town Council to provide a popular multi-use skateboard park primarily for local residents that will appeal to a wider range of skaters, scooter and BMX users.”

The facility, with total size of 1,335 sqm, would be made of sprayed concrete put into the ground with a grassed earth bunding.

The statement also says, “It is expected that once the skatepark has been constructed it will not only provide a popular facility for local residents but also for participants from outside the immediate area.

“The facility will be free to use and as it won’t be fenced off, it will be open to the public seven days a week.”