New hope for supporters of Steyning skatepark plan

Supporters of Steyning Parish Council's skatepark held a protest outside the parish meeting in Springwells ENGSUS00320130920093516
Supporters of Steyning Parish Council's skatepark held a protest outside the parish meeting in Springwells ENGSUS00320130920093516

Controversial plans to build a skatepark on Steyning’s Memorial Playing Field are back on the agenda.

After a string of legal challenges, and disputes over the exact meaning of Village Green Law, Steyning Parish Council dropped the plan in September last year.

Following requests from members of the public, the issue came up again at a parish council meeting on Monday.

Steyning resident Mike Kelly said: “Recently councillor Martin Toomey requested his colleagues on Steyning Parish Council to re-open the question of a skatepark for the youngsters of Steyning and examine the confusion over Village Green Law.

“At Monday’s Full Council meeting, in response to my open letter to all councillors (and two other letters from the public), councillor Philip Bowell, Chairman, asked the Playing Fields Committee to meet, discuss the issue and report back to the Full Council.

“Legal challenges, by a group calling itself Friends of the Memorial Playing Field, have been made against the council’s skatepark plan for over four years (all failed).

“The most recent application for permission to appeal against the Information Commissioner’s Office, reported at the meeting, has also been rejected at an oral hearing.”

Mr Kelly said he had sought clarification on Village Green Law from West Sussex County Council and from Horsham District Council (HDC), and there did not seem to be any legal bar to the skatepark being built on the field.

He added: “Councillor Toomey is right when he describes the nonsensical interpretations of Village Green Law where a bouncy castle or a feeding station for a charity run were prohibited on the Memorial Playing Field.

“The council has now the opportunity to deliver its promise to Steyning youngsters, confirmed in a public meeting (January 2012) and also in a town poll (November 2013). Two years on from that poll it is time to finish the job.”

Plans for a skatepark in Steyning faced a serious challenge in February 2013, when Friends of the Memorial Playing Field had an application approved for the field to be registered as a Village Green under the Commons Act 2006.

At this point, the skateboard facility had already been approved in principle and the planning application was due to go in front of a council committee in May 2014, with a recommendation from planning officers that it be approved.

That date was put back several times, until August 2014 when HDC told the parish council that the field’s Village Green status meant they would not be able to grant planning permission.

Friends of the Memorial Playing Field have applied for planning permission for a skatepark to be built at an alternative location, beside Steyning Leisure Centre.

Permission was granted on appeal, but nearby Steyning Grammar School and landowner West Sussex County Council have said that they oppose putting the skatepark there.

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