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District council set to offer land for new RUSH Skatepark home

Published: Tuesday, 3 April, 2018

Stroud District Council is expected to strike a deal with one of the biggest indoor skateparks in Europe which could see it get an impressive new home and put Stroud in the running as an Olympic destination.

RUSH Skatepark is set to be offered land next to Stratford Park Leisure Centre to replace its current premises. RUSH and Stroud District Council have been working hard together to find a new location since 2015, because its site at Brimscombe Port is set for redevelopment.

"This has the potential to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create the "Wembley' of skateparks plus an Olympic-standard training facility," said Jerry Norman, who along with his wife Michelle has run the award-winning skatepark as a not-for-profit community interest company since the end of 2013.

"We always knew that we would have to move one day and the council has worked hard with us to find a site within the Stroud district. So many potential sites have restrictions of one sort or another but this would be perfect. Subject to planning permission and funding, we could build something for the whole community."

Michelle added:

"It has the potential to be internationally respected but we are known as a community venue too and we would want to build on that at Stratford Park.

"Since we opened we have reached out to the community and they have responded – we have sessions for all ages and abilities including for toddlers, schools, disabled youngsters and older participants at Silver Surfers,  we stage fashion shows and concerts, and we were proud to host the GFirst Local Enterprise Partnership annual meeting on top of all the national and international events we have hosted and run.

"With a new venue, we could achieve so much more with a business hub, a sports injury rehabilitation centre, and a soft play area for example, in addition to an even better skatepark than the one we have now."

Freestyle park BMX and skateboarding are new sports for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo and with Team GB likely to send a team, RUSH wants to stage qualifiers and act as a base for the athletes before they head for Japan.

RUSH opened at the end of 2013 in a 40,000sq ft warehouse, with five distinct areas and it attracts skateboarders, BMXers, scooter riders and inline skaters from across the globe. It has staged world and national events and employs eight full-time staff and 24 part-timers, and has a zero tolerance policy on drugs, alcohol and anti-social behaviour.

On April 12, the Council’s Strategy and Resources Committee will be asked in principle to offer RUSH a peppercorn rate ground lease at Stratford Park. If the committee agrees, Council officers, in consultation with chairs of Strategy and Resources and the Community Services and Licensing Committee will be given authority to agree terms with RUSH for the land subject to planning permission and RUSH funding the cost of a new facility.

Stroud District Council leader Doina Cornell said:

"We’re really excited to support these plans which would allow Rush to stay in the district, bearing in mind the amazing success that Rush has become just from using an old warehouse I am sure they’re set for even bigger and better things with a new place built to purpose."

At the same meeting, councillors will be asked to vote on whether to recommend to full council to allocate £1.6million of capital funding to prepare infrastructure to allow the redevelopment of Brimscombe Port.

That would pay for infrastructure including restoring the canal and basin and building, and an access road. Independent consultants have told the council that the site has space for 178 new homes, a community enterprise centre, more than 1,000sq metres of business space creating 50 jobs and 10 business start-ups, and 26 boat moorings.

The site was acquired in 2009 by the South West Regional Development Agency from British Waterways, and Stroud District Council has managed it for Stroud Valley Canal Company since 2014. The property crash of 2009 meant a developer could not be found, so the council has taken several steps to prepare the site for a developer to take on.

The infrastructure has been designed, the council has bought the Ship Inn nearby which is in an important location, ground investigations are complete, discussions have been held with landowners and properties including RUSH’s current home have been let on a short term basis.

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