Elderly residents in Brackley alarmed at plans for a £150,000 skateboard park opposite their homes

Over 100 elderly residents of a retirement area of Brackley are devastated at plans to site a £150,000+ skate park directly opposite their homes.

By Roseanne Edwards
Monday, 13th June 2022, 4:23 pm
Updated Monday, 13th June 2022, 4:25 pm
The site where Brackley Town Council wants to build a modern skate park, alongside homes where over 100 elderly people live
The site where Brackley Town Council wants to build a modern skate park, alongside homes where over 100 elderly people live

Brackley Town Council has engaged leisure developer Maverick to draw up plans for the park – which would accommodate skateboarders, BMX riders and scooter riders – on a piece of district council-owned land alongside Brackley Leisure Centre.

The site is directly opposite Juniper House nursing home, Candleford Court assisted living flats and seven elderly folks’ bungalows.

Carolyn Rapolas, who represents the bungalow residents, said: “Why didn’t they ask us before they came up with this plan? We only found out on Facebook by accident. It would be right outside our houses. It’s so disrespectful to the residents of this road. They’ll face us with a fait accompli.”

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The planned skateboard park from the recreation field, facing the elderly people's homes. In the foreground is a slope and residents say the site floods

Brackley Town Mayor, Cllr Paul Wiltshire told the Banbury Guardian the cost, at upwards of £150,000, had been identified through various ‘earmarked reserves’ in the Town Council’s coffers.

"It could be more. It is by no means an inexpensive project. We are now looking at how we could fit it on the park so as not to cause anguish to local residents,” he said.

"We have asked a firm of developers to look at the site. There is no set design. There is a consultation going on until the end of June and once this is complete and the results are seen, a design will be produced.

"Then we look at whether the design is what we want and what the users want. It's very much in a state of flux. There's a meeting with residents so we can hear their fears to see what can be done to reassure them and allay their fears.”

The green area directly opposite Barchester Homes Juniper House is where the town council wants to site a skateboard park map

Mr Wiltshire said the site had been given to the Town Council by West Northants Council to build the park, which he said Brackley has been calling for for 20 years.

However, Mrs Rapolas said: “There are at least four other more suitable town council-owned areas they could put this – St James Park, the park by the fire station, the Jubilee park, the zip wire park and others around town."

She said the site was a known flooding area, lower than the recreation field, which would be a fundamental problem for a skate park. But she also said the roads layout would not support more traffic.

"There is extremely limited parking on the street and it is required for family, carers, service and delivery drivers and ambulance, police and fire access,” she said.

"There will be an influx of traffic in an elderly retirement area of over 100 residents causing highway safety issues. Road access is limited. There are three private car parks on this 100-yard road. The narrow pavements are frequently used by elderly residents using walkers, scooters and canes and parents with buggies and small children going to and from school.

“Noise and overshadowing from the boards and children's shouts will affect residents’ mental health. How can we have any assurance that skateboarders would not ride up and down pavements and the road getting to and from the park?

"There is a major concern about a park attracting drug use. We have reported several times to the police and leisure centre seeing drug users using the recreation field - and the proposed park is part of that field.

"We feel incredibly disappointed and let down by our local councillors that we were not informed of this planning proposal and we had to find out on social media.”

Mrs Rapolas called into question Brackley agreeing such ‘a huge sum being spent on placing a park for a few local youths in an elderly retirement community’.

"We have no objections for a skatepark for Brackley of course. However, the town council must think about the actual site on which to place it.” she said.

"All the residents are retired and most are disabled. They thought they were living in a quiet cul de sac, then Brackley Town Council has suddenly announced they intend to build a new skate park opposite our homes. As yet they have not consulted us.

“The Town Council is not listening and they will railroad this park through. It is an extremely busy recreation centre with a day nursery, a sizable Doctors’ surgery and mini Tesco, a pharmacy, a hairdressing shop, a Chinese takeaway a fish and chip shop and a large busy pub nearby. It has to be the busiest 100-yard road in Brackley; hundreds of cars, vans, coaches, lorries and service delivery vehicles use it every day. We do not need another attraction on this road.

"They have produced a black and white poster, with details for a Maverick Park construction survey form. There is no form to vote yes or no for a park. This poster has been placed on all council land and businesses in Brackley and nowhere near Candleford Close or residents."

Mrs Raposal said a petition had been handed to the Town Council. She said she had been struck off its Facebook page for asking for details of the funding.

Brackley Town Council’s survey about the skate park can be found here. The survey is designed for users to find out what features they would like in a skate park in Brackley.

To see Maverick skate parks around the UK see this illustrated map on the Maverick website. https://www.maverickskateparks.co.uk/map It is advertised as ‘A skater run business specialising in the design and installation of spray concrete skateparks’.