In a new twist in the ongoing west-versus-town row about where the new facility should be built, Economic Development Minister Lyndon Farnham has revealed in a letter to Scrutiny that plans are being considered for two facilities – one at Les Quennevais and the other at South Hill.
He has written to the Economic and International Affairs Scrutiny Panel, which is reviewing the matter, to say that ‘extra consultation’ is now taking place with stakeholders to see what could be built at South Hill to cater for them and that this would be ‘alongside, not instead of’ a skate park at Les Quennevais.
Previously the government said it had set aside £1.3m over two years to invest in skate-friendly facilities, around £800,000 of which would be spent on a main skate park but with no other details provided about what the rest would pay for.
Now the minister has provided an insight into their current thinking, following the controversy about the site selection process.
‘The consideration now is not whether the facilities are in St Helier or in St Brelade, but how facilities might most effectively be built to meet the needs of all Islanders for the best value for money,’ he said.
‘Extra consultation with stakeholders is now taking place to see what could be provided at South Hill to cater for them. This will be alongside a skate park at Les Quennevais, not instead of it, and the details will be clarified in forthcoming planning applications.’
He added that it had always been the plan to provide a main hub for urban sports in Jersey and other skate-friendly areas across the Island.
Les Quennevais was originally identified as the best location for the skate park following a feasibility study carried out in 2019 but the decision has attracted vocal opponents – including Jersey Sport chief executive Catriona McAllister – who argue that accessibility and lighting could be an issue and the skate park should be built in town, at South Hill.
Former Assistant Economic Development Minister Steve Pallett recently lodged a proposition – due to be debated on 9 February – with the States seeking to put the controversy to bed once and for all by asking politicians to approve the site selection as Les Quennevais, which his successor, Deputy Hugh Raymond, has also publicly backed.
Meanwhile, Senator Farnham revealed in the letter to the panel that £71,723.54 had so far been spent on the project, £43,282.57 related to the Les Quennevais site and £28,440.97 on South Hill. The costs include specialist skate park design and planning consultant fees.