Steyning skatepark back on the agenda

Supporters of Steyning Parish Council's skatepark
Supporters of Steyning Parish Council's skatepark

After years of discussions, disputes, disagreements, and threats of legal action, a decision may finally be made on Steyning skatepark.

Three years ago, plans for a permanent skatepark on the Memorial Playing Field had reached the point of being approved in principle and recommended for approval by Horsham District Council (HDC) planning officers.

However, following an application by local group Friends of the Memorial Playing Field, the field became registered as a village green under the Commons Act 2006.

The date for district councillors to make their decision on the skatepark was postponed several times.

Eventually, in August 2014, HDC told Steyning Parish Council that the field’s new status as a village green meant the skatepark would not get planning permission.

The plan seemed to have been put on hold indefinitely while confusion reigned over the exact meaning of the village green laws.

Planning officers were concerned that if round-the-clock access to the site was permitted, then there would be no way to prevent people using the skatepark late at night, causing noise nuisance to nearby residents.

On the other hand, officers felt that any attempt to fence the site off so as to prevent it being used late at night would be at odds with the concept of a public village green.

In the meantime, the Friends of the Memorial Playing Field applied for planning permission for a skatepark to be built at an alternative location, close to Steyning Leisure Centre.

Permission was granted on appeal, but nearby Steyning Grammar School and West Sussex County Council - which actually owns the land - have said that they oppose putting the skatepark there.

The plan has been in limbo ever since, with one potential site deemed unsuitable for legal reasons, and the other one simply unavailable.

On Monday, the parish council’s Playing Fields Committee met to discuss the issue and reach a conclusion as to whether the land’s village green status really did mean that the skatepark could not be placed there.

The Herald understands that the committee has concluded that the village green law need not be a problem, and have referred the matter to the full council.

The next full council meeting will be at 7.30pm on Monday February 8, at the Steyning Centre.

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