On Saturday 31 October 2015 the skatepark in Whitehouse, Ipswich, was officially opened by the Mayor of Ipswich. Dozens of young people turned up with skateboards, scooters and bikes.
The dream started nearly ten years ago when the residents of North West Ipswich were asked what they would like in their area and the resounding reply was a skatepark. But it was only late in 2014 when North West Ipswich Big Local Trust (NWI BLT) collaborated with SITA Trust, Ipswich Borough Council and the North West Ipswich Area Committee to provide the funding to take this project forward.
When NWI BLT was formed back in 2012 the resident members ‘hit the streets’ to ask the community how they would like to see the £1m Big Lottery funding spent and the skatepark was included in the consultation.
There was an overwhelming response from young people and their parents to the idea of building a skatepark in the neighborhood. So plans were put in place to research how we could achieve this with partners SITA Trust and Ipswich Borough Council.
First, where to site the skatepark? After several surveys and consultations it was decided that Whitehouse Park would be the ideal situation within the North West area. Next was the design – as we are non-skaters we asked for help from the community. The response from skaters was phenomenal and their views and opinions on design were a great help to us in providing a skatepark that the skaters wanted. Then skaters, young and old, joined us at an evening event where they met four skatepark companies. They viewed various skatepark designs and had lengthy discussions on which elements should be included in the designs.
So after many meetings, design changes, budgetary considerations and planning consent, Wheelscape, the chosen skatepark build and design company, began the real work on the skatepark. The timeframe for the build was tight but Wheelscape were determined, despite the good old British weather that the skatepark would be built on time. There were times with heavy rain that the excavation seemed more like a swimming pool but gradually the skatepark took shape. Within a few weeks from dips and curves, metal work, concrete and an acoustic wall, emerged a beautiful modern structure.
The project was delighted that the Mayor of Ipswich, Cllr Glen Chisholm, officially opened the skatepark on Saturday 31 October 2015 and even more delighted when the Mayor and local vicar, Revd. Andrew Dotchin, donned helmets and took their first trip on the skatepark. The reception by the local community to the skatepark was both heartwarming and overwhelming. All the hard work was rewarded by the look of delight on the faces of the young people as they tried out their skills on the skatepark.
Whitehouse Park is a beautiful location and a great community asset – you can join and help form a ‘Friends of the Park Group’ to improve the facilities within the park and the North West area. Contact NWI BLT for more information.
The NWI BLT project is coordinated through Community Action Suffolk, who acts as the Local Trusted Organisation (LTO) for the project.
(source: North West Ipswich Big Local Trust)