New Sidley BMX and skateboarding facilities get the go ahead

Proposals for new skateboarding and BMX facilities in Bexhill have been given the go ahead.

Friday, 10th September 2021, 9:56 am
Sidley Recreation Ground

Today (Thursday September 9), Rother District Council’s planning committee approved plans to build both a new skateboard park and a freestyle BMXing area at Sidley Recreation Ground off of Canada Way.

The plans, which come from the council itself, will also see the existing BMX race replaced with a ‘competitive-standard’ upgrade.

While approved, the scheme had seen a number of concerns raised by objectors, including fears around parking, loss of green space, noise disturbance and anti-social behaviour. 

Speaking at the meeting, neighbour Gillian Ammoun said: “We are all aware that most of you are inclined to accept this proposals, but we ask that you think carefully about what you intend to destroy and those residents left behind to pick up the pieces when things start to go wrong.

“You don’t have to live with it on your doorstep. On paper you can make promises, but these do not work in practice. 

“We need a management committee, including residents, so that we have some redress when things go wrong.”

She added that an alternative site should be found for the proposals or, if approved, there be a requirement for CCTV. 

Later in the meeting officers confirmed CCTV would be installed as part of the proposals and also said the site would include an acoustic barrier to reduce noise.

Ms Ammoun also criticised the way the council had consulted on the plans, arguing that many local residents had no access to technology and had not received written notice of the scheme.

As a result she asked that the committee defer their decision until “a proper public consultation” could take place. 

A very different argument was put forward by ward councillor Sam Coleman (Lab), who said: “Modern skate parks are a staple of sporting provision in towns across the country. Hastings, Eastbourne, Battle [and] many other towns have quality skate parks; Bexhill does not.

“For someone young or old looking to take up the sport in Bexhill they currently have a choice between the kerbside or run-down ramps made of warped metal and rusty nails knocked together 30 years ago as a temporary solution. 

“The myth that skateboarding is a catalyst for thugs and drugs has been shown false by [Olympic skaters] Sam Beckett, Skye Brown, Jesse Thomas and many others.

“Think of the future professional athletes and Olympians that this site could create.”

Similar views were put forward by Sidley’s other ward councillor James Carroll (Con), who argued the scheme would provide a positive facility for young people.

Meanwhile Labour councillor Christine Bayliss, who had long been involved in the campaign to establish the facility, spoke about the consultation work and planning which had gone on prior to the proposals coming forward. 

The committee also heard the proposals had generated a significant amount of support from local residents, with many arguing it would provide “a much-needed local facility”.

Following some debate the proposals were approved unanimously.

Both the skatepark and the BMX race track are to be floodlit, however the BMX practice area will not be.

During the same meeting, councillors also approved a separate application to upgrade the recreation ground’s pavilion, adding wheelchair access and WC facilities.

For further information on the skating and BMX proposals see application reference RR/2021/1759/P. For details on the pavilion proposals see RR/2021/1874/P.