Rushcliffe Borough Council have advertised the contract to replace the wooden skatepark at Rushcliffe Country Park, Ruddington, with a bespoke concrete facility to be designed in close collaboration with local young people. The skatepark will be completed in April 2021 and will join other new facilities in the borough, including ‘The Hook’ skatepark at Lady Bay, which opened in May 2019, and Radcliffe-on-Trent skatepark, which opened earlier this year.
Nottingham and Nottinghamshire are amongst the original homes of UK skateboarding, with a 50-year history in a sport. The area may be represented in the Tokyo Olympics in summer 2021 by local professional skateboarder and Skateboard GB team-member Alex Hallford, who grew up skating the original wooden parks at Lady Bay and Ruddington.
The sport has a unique ability to encourage interests in film and photography whilst the experience teenagers gain from building wooden ramps with their friends can progress into careers in civil engineering and architecture. Rushcliffe Borough Council, alongside social enterprise Skate Nottingham, science education charity Ignite! Futures and Nottingham Trent University, will seek to maximise this potential by empowering young people to co-design the new facility at Rushcliffe Country Park, through a series of workshops aimed at local 11-18-year-olds as well as older skaters and BMXers, facilitated by academic experts in architecture, engineering and sports science and mentored by university students.
The new skatepark will have a ‘plaza’ style layout, simulating the street furniture favoured in modern skateboarding along with beginner-friendly features, elements designed for BMXers, and materials and sustainable approaches to construction that are sensitive to the country park setting.
This will complement the more ramp-based design of nearby Radcliffe-on-Trent, a project that was led by the local user community and supported by their Parish, Borough and County Councils; and the mix of ramp and street features at Lady Bay, which was also designed in close collaboration with the user and resident communities. Because of its community-led approach, Lady Bay skatepark was a finalist in two categories in the 2019 East Midlands Celebrating Construction Awards. Rushcliffe’s free, outdoor public skateparks will closely meet the needs of the two Olympic skateboarding disciplines: ‘park’ (bowls, ramps etc., as found at Radcliffe-on-Trent) and ‘street’ (hand rails, ledges, steps etc., which will be incorporated into the design in Ruddington).
James Hope-Gill, Chief Executive of Skateboard GB, praised this approach: “It is great to see that Rushcliffe Borough Council has a dedicated budget for skateboarding facilities and has really thought about the design of each of their parks individually, rather than duplicating the same forms in each. The existing parks at Lady Bay and Radcliffe have already proved that, with forward thinking and involving the user community from the outset, it has led to two amazing skate parks which are hugely popular for all wheeled users.”
The design workshops for Rushcliffe Country Park will be supported by a grant from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) awarded to Ignite! and Skate Nottingham. This will also support local young people to create spaces for physical activity in Nottingham city, close to the new Nottingham College City Hub, and in a number of locations in Broxtowe in partnership with the Beeston Civic Society.
These workshops will help equip young people for employment, will raise aspirations for future careers and will engage those from more disadvantaged areas and groups who are likely to be most adversely affected by covid-19 and the accompanying recession. In empowering local young people to actively design and build new spaces, the project will also teach skills in creativity, sustainable construction and transport planning in the context of Nottingham and Nottinghamshire’s ambitious environmental targets.
The workshop participants’ film, audio recordings, drawings and models will all be exhibited interactively during the 2021 Festival of Science and Curiosity from the 10th to the 17th of February, which will be followed by the completion of the new skatepark at Rushcliffe Country Park.
Rushcliffe Borough Council’s Deputy Leader, Councillor Debbie Mason, said: “It’s heartening to see another wonderful skatepark set to be further developed for thousands of current and future skateboarders to enjoy, building on the success of new sites at Lady Bay, East Leake and Radcliffe-on-Trent in the Borough.
“The concept here at the Country Park again incorporates the chance for those who enjoy the sport to add their creative influence into its final design. The future workshops I am sure will really help engage local skateboarders, creating another site they will make their own and a place they can feel proud that they helped shape.”