Skatepark appeal heard

ANTISOCIAL behaviour at a Portishead beauty spot became a hot topic during a planning appeal hearing held to consider proposals for a new skate park in the town.

Yesterday (Tues), members of Portishead Skatepark Project (PSP) put forward their arguments as to why they believe plans for a skate park at the Lake Grounds should be allowed to go ahead.

The appeal, held at Somerset Hall in High Street, followed a decision made by North Somerset Council’s north area planning committee in February to refuse the proposals on the grounds the concrete skate park would detract from the character and appearance of the Lake Grounds and have an unacceptable impact on the living conditions of nearby residents.

During the hearing, which was attended by more than 20 members of the public, a number of people living near the site complained of problems they already experience as a result of youngsters gathering during the evening, screaming, shouting and leaving rubbish behind.

North Somerset councillor David Pasley said: “We have people complaining they can hear lots of noises, screeches and shouts.

“There is no doubt about it. The police have confirmed in their report that the Lake Grounds is an antisocial behaviour hot spot for their officers.

“It takes more police resources than any other part of Portishead.”

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However, members and supporters of PSP believe the skate park would not add to the problem and could even reduce it.

Jon Gething, speaking for PSP, said: “We do not believe the skate park will make any negative difference to the problems at the Lake Grounds that are there now.

“The whole thing is to create activities for young people who are otherwise not engaged and possibly reduce that problem.”

Liese Stanley, a PSP member and Portishead town councillor, said: “We have a lot of support from people who live on the Lake Grounds who accept they moved over-looking a public area that is well-used.

“Local PCSOs and our police sergeant say they think the Lake Grounds would be a good place for a skate park.

“The police get less than three calls a week concerning antisocial behaviour in the Coast Ward.”

Also at the hearing, some people raised concerns that the sunken skate park would have a detrimental effect on the Lake Grounds’ appearance.

Mark Fielden, who lives near to the site, said: “I believe the Lake Grounds are attractive and the grass area is attractive and I think that a large lump of concrete would spoil it.”

In response, Jon Gething added: “This area of the Lake Grounds does not have a great deal of character.

“I think the area where the skate park is planned for is quite a boring bit of grass.

“We thought we had done a very good job in trying to enhance the area.”

After arguments were heard about the issues relating to the skate park, planning inspector Roger Eagle and representatives of PSP and North Somerset Council visited the Lake Grounds for Mr Eagle to see where the skate park is planned for.

His final decision on the application will be made public in a few weeks.