Oliver Brewster – project lead and long-standing member of the Island’s skating community – said the proposal, due to be debated by the States Assembly next week, was ‘not a choice between South Hill Gardens or Les Quennevais’ but rather a decision about how the main facility and smaller ‘satellite’ facility would be spread across the Island.
Tuesday’s States sitting will see Members debate a proposition to decide whether the new facility will be built at Les Quennevais Sports Centre, as proposed by former Assistant Economic Development Minister Steve Pallett. An amendment has been lodged which, if approved, would mean that the main skate park would be built at South Hill Gardens in St Helier instead.
Despite Les Quennevais originally being put forward as the preferred site following a 2019 consultation, discussions about the project began again when a government survey found that South Hill was favoured by 60% of the questionnaire’s 2,500 respondents.
Mr Brewster said that if South Hill was selected, some of the possible areas for smaller skate parks could include the Le Rocquier playing fields and that ‘Les Quennevais Sports Centre itself’ could be a good location for a satellite facility in the west.
‘It is more a choice of where the public – or the States Assembly now with the proposition – feel it is best to distribute the facilities across the Island and how these may better correlate with the population distribution across the Island,’ he said.
When asked if he had a preference between the two sites, he added: ‘In terms of this project I think I have to separate my personal opinion from my professional role in the project. My preference is to provide the best skate park for the Island of Jersey and maximise the benefit to the public and the skate park community.’
The amendment to Senator Pallett’s proposition, lodged by Economic Development Minister Lyndon Farnham, asks that South Hill be selected, with ‘satellite facilities in the west and east of the Island’.
Assistant Economic Development Minister Hugh Raymond, who has political responsibility for Island sport, said: ‘Our objective is to build a modern, accessible and open facility which will become a hub where Jersey’s urban sports can flourish. The survey shows a clear preference for South Hill Gardens, and we are bringing an amendment to the proposition so that the States Assembly can enable us to listen to the public sentiment and build the central skate park there.’
The project’s plans consist of a 2,000sqm main skate park and include the provision of one additional satellite facility. The scheme has a budget of £1.2 million, but any satellite skate parks created in addition to the one that is planned would require extra funding to be secured.
Senator Farnham said that both the main and the smaller park would be delivered within budget. He explained that although building the main park at South Hill would cost slightly more, it would not be ‘a huge difference’.
He added that if the proposals were approved, the timeline for the project would see a planning application submitted by the end of February, with construction starting in August and the facility opening by the end of January 2022.