Saffron Walden: Ambitious One Minet Skate Park designs unveiled

INNOVATIVE plans to transform Saffron Walden’s skatepark into a “flexible space to inspire the whole community” have been unveiled.

Artist’s illustrations, drawn up by Ashworth Parkes Architects, complete with brief details about the proposed multi-purpose access point – called the Hub – went live on the Saffron Walden Skate Group website this month.

As well an extension to the skating, blading and BMX facility, the group says the hub will act as a ‘one-stop shop’, with a caf� and workshops units, and space for information support and advisory services, film and music-making and a focal point for the arts.

Organisations such as the NHS, police, Citizens Advice Bureau and Choices, a crisis centre based in Bishop’s Stortford, have all expressed an interest in bringing services to the centre.

“It shows the hub could be a really important part of the town, and not just for skaters but for all,” said skate group chairman Bev Young.

“With the Fairycroft centre going, it would be a central place for youth services in the town. It would give the young people somewhere to go but it would be a space fit for everyone.”

Concerns have been raised about the project, notably from nearby residents over noise levels and the potential impact extending the skatepark would have.

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But Mrs Young insists the project can “only be a good thing”, particularly given that so many people have been involved since the idea was first mooted back in 2007.

“There is a big mis-conception that skaters are only for young people – people of all ages from all different walks of life make use of the park. They have brought ideas to the table and that is what it should be about.

“This is a community project and the skaters want to be part of it. They want to give something back.

“The project has brought people together and is bridging gaps between different generations – it has and will continue to engender community spirit.

“We’re incredibly lucky with the young people in this town – they want to be part of the community.”

With sustainable heating, water harvesting, waste disposal, air circulation and energy efficient lighting, the intention is to blend the main building in with the existing buildings and landscape.

The large, flexible indoor space would boast an office, caf�, club room and workshop units

“The young people have put in such a lot of hard work and have come up with really fantastic ideas,” said Mrs Young.

“They’ve led the project and been involved with the design to the many creative ideas of how to maximise the use of the space to fit for all.”

A business plan is also being put together to ensure the hub would be sustainable in the long term.

Yet, despite the optimism, the project remains very much in the concept phase. The scheme is reliant on Kier Homes, the developer which owns the land, and would be part of future sustainable housing plans – around 200 homes would be earmarked for the site.

Any moves on the project would be unlikely until Uttlesford District Council’s finalises its Local Development Framework.

“The scheme is dependent on the housing situation but we’re being as prepared as we possibly can be,” said Mrs Young.

“This has been a long time in the making. If building does go ahead we have the research there to push the project forward.”

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