Councillors reject removal of skate park from former Shredded Wheat factory plans

PUBLISHED: 07:00 17 December 2019

The skate park at the Welwyn Garden City Wheat Quarter site could still go ahead. Picture: WHBC.

The skate park at the Welwyn Garden City Wheat Quarter site could still go ahead. Picture: WHBC.

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The skate park should not be removed from Welwyn Garden City’s Wheat Quarter plans, borough councillors have said.

An artist's impression of the current plans for the former Shredded Wheat site in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Wheat Quarter.An artist's impression of the current plans for the former Shredded Wheat site in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Wheat Quarter.

At a meeting of the development management committee on Thursday, December 5 it was decided by all councillors that they should reject the developer's new plans for a three-storey building for young people.

Welwyn Hatfield borough councillor Malcolm Cowan, and Liberal Democrat leader, expressed concerns in November at a development management committee and asked the committee to reconsider the proposal.

"Skateboarding continues to take place outside Sainsbury's in the town centre [and] this cannot be deemed a satisfactory location," said Cllr Cowan, who is a ward councillor for the Peartree area.

He also pointed out that skateboarding is a healthy activity that is now an Olympic sport and explained that the loss would mean Welwyn Garden City children would have fewer outlets to prevent anti-social behaviour (ASB) in the town.

An artist's impression of the current plans for the former Shredded Wheat site in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Wheat Quarter.An artist's impression of the current plans for the former Shredded Wheat site in Welwyn Garden City. Picture: Wheat Quarter.

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However James Waterhouse, the agent for the developer, said in November the increased risk of ASB was one of the reasons they took the skate park out of their plans. They also felt that the new three-storey building for young people would use the space more effectively.

In December, councillors decided to reject the changes due to a lack of parking at the new larger office block that was proposed instead of the skate park.

And said there was no guarantee the indoor leisure use being proposed on one floor would meet the preferences of the older children and young teenagers that skateboarding commonly attracted.

The skate park at the Welwyn Garden City Wheat Quarter site could still go ahead. Picture: WHBC.The skate park at the Welwyn Garden City Wheat Quarter site could still go ahead. Picture: WHBC.

Cllr Cowan said after the meeting: "I am very grateful to councillors of all parties who expressed their dissatisfaction about the threat to scrap the skatepark after planning permission had been granted, and for agreeing the two reasons for refusal that were agreed.

"I hope the developers will reflect on what was said by many councillors and revert to providing what they freely promised when they applied for development permission".

Plans are also in the pipeline for another 128 homes near the former Shredded Wheat factory in a separate development to the 1,454-home Wheat Quarter proposals already agreed.

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