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Unanimous backing from councillors for new skatepark site offer

Published: Monday, 16 April, 2018

A plan to offer a leading skatepark land for a new venue has been backed unanimously by a key Stroud District Council committee.

RUSH Skatepark can start planning for a new home in Stroud, after the Strategy and Resources Committee approved providing land at Stratford Park for a peppercorn rent, as long as RUSH obtains planning permission and secures funds for the build.

“We and the rest of the RUSH Team would like to thank everyone at Stroud District Council for their support,” said Jerry and Michelle Norman, who founded Europe’s second biggest indoor skatepark in a disused warehouse at Brimscombe Port in 2013.

“We still have a long way to go but this is really exciting times for Rush and Stroud and we look forward to creating something really special for the community and beyond.”

The skatepark has built a national and international reputation with BMXers, skateboarders, inline skaters and scooter riders, and has a wide range of users locally and regionally.

With freestyle BMX and skateboarding gaining Olympic status for the 2020 Tokyo Games, RUSH wants to act as a national base for Team GB, and build facilities for local people at a new site too.

SDC leader Doina Cornell, said:

“We want our district to be a place where young people are happy to live and to visit and I know RUSH has had positive impacts on many young people's lives.

“I'm very pleased to see unanimous support from all the political parties, and having also discussed this last week with our MP David Drew I know he is also keen for us to keep this world class facility at the heart of Stroud. 

“There have been a few concerns expressed about how it will impact on the park, and the initial design we looked at is very mindful of that, but it will be very important that the community is consulted on the plans as they progress.”

The Council’s Strategy and Resources Committee unanimously approved in principle to offer RUSH a peppercorn rate ground lease at Stratford Park at its meeting on Thursday, April 12. Now Council officers, in consultation with the chairs of the Strategy and Resources and the Community Services and Licensing committees, have authority to agree terms with RUSH for the land, subject to planning permission and RUSH funding the cost of a new facility.

At the same meeting, committee members also voted unanimously to bridge a funding gap to make Brimscombe Port economically viable to take on. Independent consultants say the site could take up to 178 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.

But abnormal infrastructure costs and inflated building costs means it needs more work before a developer would start work, so committee members recommended that a full Council meeting on April 26 approves allocating up to £1.6million for infrastructure and redevelopment.

That money would pay for canal basin and building restoration, plus an access road, creating a site for a developer to turn in to a dramatic waterside setting.

Stroud District Council has managed it for Stroud Valley Canal Company since 2014, the site having been acquired in 2009 by the South West Regional Development Agency from British Waterways.

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 it on.

That includes letting some premises including RUSH’s on a short term basis, designing infrastructure, completing ground investigations, and holding discussions with landowners.

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