Community campaigning for new ‘concrete waves’ skatepark on Hayling Island needs support to make ‘magical’ space a reality
A CAMPAIGN to create a new skatepark on Hayling Island has been launched.
The Hayling Skatepark Project, the community group behind the campaign, is hoping to raise £200,000 for a new, safer, and quieter skatepark to replace the damaged facilities at the current site on the seafront.
After being in place for more than 20 years, the old skatepark is unsafe to use as the metal ramps are corroded and the tarmac is pitted and uneven.
Calls have been made for the park’s renovation for the past five years, and last month some of the old ramps were removed from the site.
Now, the community group of around 100 members is campaigning for a new park with ‘concrete waves’ on the seafront site.
Hayling resident Matt Pilkington, project chair, said: ‘Now is the perfect time to launch the new campaign.’
The team wants to create a new structure from spray concrete.
Raising money through crowdfunding and grants, the community group hope to have the necessary funds by summer 2022.
Matt, 35, said: ‘Having concrete waves on the beach will be a genuine draw for people, and creating the new park from concrete will be much quieter, safer, fun for users, cheaper to maintain, and it has a longer lifespan. It will make it look really interesting and cool.
‘I’m quite excited, and pleased that everybody’s supporting the project.’
Havant Borough Council cannot afford to repair or replace the site, but is supporting the campaign.
The Hayling Skatepark Project has been liaising with the council’s playparks team, which has secured £55,000 in internal funding for the new skatepark - meaning that the project is already a quarter of the way towards its goal.
Tracey Wood, head of housing and community engagement at Havant Borough Council, said: ‘Havant Borough Council is aware how popular this skatepark is to the community both on and off the island.
‘We are working closely with a local group of skatepark users on the Hayling Skatepark Project to assist in the refurbishment.
‘The council has secured £55,000 of funding from developer contributions towards the refurbishment of the skatepark to help provide a fit for purpose concrete facility that will not face the corrosion issues currently encountered.
‘A new park will provide an exciting new facility which will be fun and welcoming for all ages, abilities and types of wheeled sports for years to come.’
Matt has been skateboarding since the park opened in 1997.
He said: ‘It’s kind of a community hub for young people. I grew up skateboarding down there, I met all my best friends down there, and now I have a business with my friends who I met at the park when I was 12.
‘It’s a sport but it’s also a culture, it teaches you hard work and independence. You learn about patience and the value of working hard, and it’s important in terms of developing people and socialising.
‘In today’s world we spend all our time looking at screens, so it’s important for physical and mental wellbeing to be outside, doing something you enjoy.’
Matt, who visits the park with his own children aged five and seven, estimates that several hundred people use the skatepark over a weekend.
He added: ‘It’s so sad to see something so important to you going into the ground, it feels like it’s been left behind.
‘There’s really nothing for teenagers to do on Hayling, especially not for free.
‘It’s an interesting melting pot of different people - old and young, rich and poor. Having better gear doesn’t make you a better skater, it’s about the time and effort you put in.
‘It’s a very inclusive environment, and skateboarding opens your eyes to other jobs and careers that you might not know about.
‘It’s so important to so many people. It’s a magical thing.’
Charles Bryant, a member of the community group, is a long time user of the skatepark.
He was involved in the initial creation of the original skatepark more than 20 years ago, and wants to see better facilities at the site for youngsters to enjoy.
Charles, 38, said: ‘I think the skatepark will give the younger generation a sense of pride and ownership, a place to meet and make friends and help get them off screens and out enjoying the fresh air on Hayling.’