By Jennifer Maxfield
THE finishing touches are being made to Guildford’s new skate park, following years of campaigning to update the facility.
After a £235,000 refurbishment, an array of ramps, handrails and bowls will soon be unveiled in Stoke Park.
It replaces an old wooden skate park, which was built in the late 1990s.
Its surface rotted and it became uneconomical to repair so last year Guildford Borough Council removed it before it became unsafe.
Greg Foster, who runs Decade skate shop in Guildford, has been fighting for the installation of a better facility for eight years and has lobbied council members to build a concrete park.
After suffering several setbacks, he enlisted the support of MP Anne Milton and fellow skater Nick Druce, who founded the Guildford Skate Park Alliance group to build the campaign’s momentum.
Now almost a decade later – and as a result of many meetings – the brand new facility is almost complete.
Mr Foster said: “We’ve aimed for it to be the best skate park in the area.
“It caters for beginners and experienced skaters and it will last for generations.
“It’s a concrete skate park that does not need to be resurfaced regularly and it has brought us right up to date.
“It was the worst in the area before – it’s gone from zero to hero.”
He said he is ‘passionate’ about skating and says the new park will benefit hundreds, possibly thousands, of people in the area.
It boasts an American-style design, called a ‘flow park’, which is also suitable for BMX riders.
The council hosted a meeting of park users before construction began to find out what they wanted from the facility and used the feedback to influence the design.
Mr Foster praised the improved relationship between councillors and skaters, adding: “It was a pile of wood before and it looks amazing now.
“It’s been 100% worth the wait and we’ve achieved what we’ve set out to do.”
Mr Druce, who picked up his first skate board 11 years ago at the age of 27, said: “I think skate parks are great environments for kids of all ages.
“I wanted to really make sure that Guildford had the best skate park possible within the budget.
“It’s great for parents throughout Surrey to be able to drive down with their kids, and for them to enjoy something healthy with a great vibe.”
Mr Druce, who grew up in Shere and has a background in producing and presenting action sports films, said the alliance proved vital in turning the skate park dream into reality.
The council funded it using Section 106 monies, where developers have contributed to the local community when they are granted planning permission.
The park will be landscaped with trees and shrubs, and a new footpath will be created to link the lido car park and Stoke Park gardens.
A grand opening of the park is due to take place next month.