Rivermead is likely to be the location of the much argued about skatepark costing £60,000 after the West Swindon Forum made progress on the vexed issue at its meeting on 13 January.
After agreeing Salt Way Field in Middleleaze as the site at meetings in 2012, the forum was forced in 2013 into a review after residents of Spencer Close mounted fierce opposition to the original proposal.
In two separate surveys in December last year, residents across West Swindon and further afield were asked to choose between three sites – a new location at Salt Way Field, Shaw Ridge, close to the leisure park, and off Rivermead Drive, opposite the Spectrum/Renault building.
The online and paper survey was completed by 321 respondents with the majority by far supporting Rivermead, the furthest of the three sites from housing, though the most difficult to get to for younger skaters.
In a simpler survey of Year 6 primary school pupils and students at Lydiard Park Academy, 800 voting cards were returned with the majority supporting Shaw Ridge.
Combining the preferences Shaw Ridge received most support, followed by Rivermead, but people at the forum meeting criticised the surveys as not comparable and rejected its findings.
Right, Arthur Beltrami and residents of Spencer Close, objecting to the Salt Way Field location in February 2013
Councillor Garry Perkins said: "Officers have met with the skating community who are keen to see the skatepark built, and have expressed a preference for Rivermead which is the furtherst away from housing. If we don’t make a decision now it will never get built.
Councillor Michael Dickinson said that councillors on the forum should support the Rivermead Drive site, pictured below in 2006, subject to a technical study of the ground conditions. People attending the meeting endorsed the idea and a final announcement will be made at the next meeting on 17 March.
After the meeting skater Spencer Close resident Linford Madley said: "There was overall support for Rivermead. It was put forward as an option and we assume it is viable for it to go ahead."
Skater Manny Dhanoa said: “The skate park has been going round and round, skaters just want to see it built, so I’m glad there’s a decision.”
However skater Robert Wells, from Eastleaze, who works at the Spectrum building didn’t think much of the decision. “Rivermead will probably fail the technical study because it floods; it was half underwater in early January.”
Councillor Nick Martin, who originally proposed Salt Way Field in 2012, but was heavily criticised for defending the decision, said: “It was a democratic decision. The skating enthusiasts will be pleased, but I fear younger people will be put off by the remote location. I hope that we don’t see them walking along the side of busy main roads to get there”
If councillors give the site the green light, it will then have to go before Swindon Council’s planning committee.
Below, Nick Martin, left with young people who lobbied him for a skatepark in the early 2012, showing off skatepark design options: Liam Dobson and Aaron Calver, with and Dan Sharp, Olly Morton and Wendy Davies of Bendcrete Skateparks