Welwyn Garden City Wheat Quarter skate park set to be scrapped
PUBLISHED: 17:00 17 November 2019 | UPDATED: 13:54 20 November 2019
Developers of the former Welwyn Garden City Shredded Wheat factory site have taken the skate park out of their plans.
The Wheat Quarter development will have a new three-storey building for young people instead - which those behind the plans say will use the space more efficiently.
But Welwyn Hatfield borough councillor Malcolm Cowan, and Liberal Democrat leader, expressed concerns about the change at a development management committee on Thursday 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 area.
He added that the loss would mean Welwyn Garden City children would have fewer outlets to prevent anti-social behaviour (ASB) in the town.
However James Waterhouse, the agent for the developer, said the increased risk of ASB was one of the reasons they took the skate park out of their plans. They felt that the new three-storey building for young people would use the space more effectively.
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The development management committee councillors all expressed disappointment that the skate park had been taken out of the plans, but could not find a reason - under planning rules - to object to the new use of the site.
Labour councillor James Broach said he was going to "go with officers on this one", as he agreed it was a better use of the site.
Liberal Democrat councillor Siobhan Elam said she could not understand why the skate park could not just be at the bottom of the building.
Council officers said this was looked at by the developers, but it would mean changing the heights of the ceilings.
The committee's chair, Conservative councillor Jonathan Boulton, stressed that there were no legal reasons to object to the plans.
Cllr Boulton said if no skate park had been promised then the mixed use development (D2) would have been agreed to.
It was ultimately agreed by the development management committee to delay the decision by a month.
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.