Funding for Chippenham’s long-awaited permanent skate park could be under threat if the Bridge Centre cannot be sold.
Wiltshire Council is expecting the sale of the Bridge Centre land to fund the Monkton Park skate park’s start-up costs, estimated at £275,000.
An agreement over the Bridge Centre site between Wiltshire Council and the developers ING, now owned by Peveril, was signed in December 2011, with a planning application for a big Bath Road retail development anticipated in 2012.
But plans were held up by out-of-town retail space competing for big name stores. And now that Peveril will probably have to find new tenants, sale of the centre is likely to be delayed even further.
It is unclear whether Wiltshire Council has an alternative source of funding in mind, should the sale fall through.
After a decade long fight, skaters had felt a step closer to victory in September last year when the Chippenham Area Board voted to submit a planning application for a concrete skatepark in Monkton Park.
And soon they will lose their part-time skate shed, when the Bridge Centre closes its doors at the end of September.
Jane Scott, leader of Wiltshire Council, said in response to Councillor Chris Caswill’s questions on July 29: “The council has identified funding for the skate park from the sale of the Bridge Centre and the land on which the existing skate park is located.
“This was a delegated decision by officers negotiated as part of the relocation package of services associated with the disposal.”
Coun Caswill, who represents the Chippenham Monkton ward where residents are furiously opposed to siting a skate park, said he predicted the costs to be higher than £300,000.
He said: “The sum of £275,000 allowed for doesn’t take into account that it will be expensive to run. It will have to be patrolled; it cannot be left to go on all night long.
“I still maintain it would be better located in Bristol Road, where the cost would have been half of that.”
He said the lower cost would be due to less flooding alleviation and noise mitigation.
“There is a natural screen of trees already there,” he said.
Chippenham Area Board assured the public in April they could expect a skatepark planning application to be put in by December this year.
A project team is in the process of preparing planning documents with support from a consultancy firm.
Peveril have until the end of November 2014 to find new tenants as this is when their development agreement with the council expires.
A Wiltshire Council spokesman said: “We will look at all options available to us should the circumstances change regarding this proposed development.
“It remains the case that a replacement skatepark will be funded from proceeds of the sale of the Bridge Centre site and work on the planning application is progressing to plan.
“Consultants have been appointed to manage the project and they are co-ordinating the process.
“Throughout any planning process people have the opportunity to put their views forward on proposals and they will be considered before a final decision is made.”