It's been a long time coming!
A potted history of Marple Skatepark Phase II
It seems an incredibly long time ago now that we first revealed our ideas for the top section of the skatepark and the basketball court. It was actually during the Team Extreme event at the 2017 Marple Carnival, which celebrated the successful completion of the skatepark improvements that we'd been working towards since 2011.
A phase II wasn't initially envisaged but as we neared the end of the project it became clear that we wouldn't really be finished until the old top section was brought up to the same standard as the new part of the skatepark, and the basketball court had been way past its best for a very long time.
Phase I had been a huge success, with fantastic community support, and we hoped to build on that and maintain momentum.
Marple Skatepark Phase II - Top section and MUGA
The reality proved very different
Although we tabled provisional plans at Marple Carnival in June 2017, it took until December to fully develop the scheme and submit a planning application. One of our key aims was to create a “nursery area” on the top section where young and less experienced users could skate and scoot when the park was really busy, yet was still fully integrated with the main skatepark. We think our design achieved this but unfortunately that aim had to be abandoned after objections were received on the plans that took until October 2018 to resolve.
At the root of those problems was a comment that “there would be no hard-standing access to the new sports area (existing basketball court)” once the improvements were completed. The planners decided that this needed to be addressed and the only way to provide it without restarting the planning process from scratch was to create a new footpath within the footprint covered by the existing planning application.
This requirement forced us down the route of adding a footpath along the top edge of the skatepark area. Initially we thought we could live with loosing a metre for a path along the top edge but unfortunately RoSPA regulations for skateparks stipulate that you cannot have a footpath closer than 2 metres from a skatepark obstacle or feature. This meant that we would actually loose a 3 metre strip of usable space from the top section of the skatepark for a footpath we didn't really think was needed. The loss of this space meant that we no longer had enough room to create the “nursery area” and we had to make significant design changes and then resubmit to planning. This was done in July 2018 but approval dragged on until the October.
While all this was going on there was really good news on the financial front, as £85,000 of Formal Sports Commuted Sums from the Morris Homes development on Hibbert Lane was allocated by Stockport Council to pay for the skatepark phase II and MUGA works.
Marple Skatepark Phase I & II - the full picture
In the spring of 2019 we believed things were finally coming together: we had planning permission and we had the money, what else could go wrong?
Well one issue was an installation contractor who'd become very busy. We talked of starting before or after the 2019 summer holidays but it was very difficult to find a suitable window in Canvas's busy schedule. While this was going on we listened to some minor comments from users on the design for the top section refurbishment and decided to do something about them. This turned into a much bigger job than expected and we ended up reworking the layout over the summer so it had to be submitted to planning again! This went in at the end of August 2019 as a minor amendment to the scheme granted in October 2018. After another much longer than expected wait it was finally approved in October 2019 and we'd somehow lost another year!
The winter of 2019/20 passed quickly with a prolonged engagement with Canvas, refining and adjusting costs and still trying to find a suitable window in their busy schedule.
As we entered the spring of 2020 it was great, at long last, to be able to make an announcement that we will be starting on site in April. As mentioned earlier, our target was to complete both skatepark and MUGA works in good time for Marple Carnival.
March 2020: Phase II start on site less than a month away!
Once again things have taken far longer than we'd hoped and expected but following a pre-start meeting with Canvas Spaces yesterday (10 March 2020), Friends of Memorial Park are now in a position to announce that Marple Skatepark Phase II construction will begin early next month.
Canvas will commence in April with a track being laid across the park for heavy traffic and access to their compound, which will be on the basketball court like it was during phase I. The track will cause some obstruction to park users but is essential to protect tarmac and grass from damage by heavy machinery. The basketball court and the old top section of the skatepark, plus the bank transitioning down, will be cordoned off with safety barriers during the works. Most of the lower section of the skatepark will remain open, so although work will be ongoing during the Easter school holidays, users will still be able to skate most of the lower level while the top section is being rebuilt.
Marple Skatepark Phase II close-up
After the top section of the skatepark is completed and Canvas have left site, a new contractor will follow-on with the works to resurface the basketball court, add fences and other new features to turn it into a modern MUGA (Multi-User GAmes) Facility.
The target is for all facilities to be reopened and the access track removed in good time for Marple Carnival on Saturday 20 June. Of course it will take longer for the grassed areas under the track to recover and for the flowerbed on the access route to be reinstated.
Please support Friends of the Park, Stockport Council and their contractors as we seek to complete the final stages of this long-term project begun in 2011 to create an outstanding new facility for the young people of Marple. At that time we wrote, can anything else go wrong? Will Coronavirus slow us down? Little did we know!
Marple Skatepark Phase II on hold due to COVID-19
We thought we'd overcome all the hurdles in the way of constructing Marple Skatepark Phase II but following the PM's announcement on Monday 23 March we had to confirm that the construction start scheduled for 6 April 2020 was now on hold.
May 2020: Marple Skatepark Phase II to start on site next week!
Friends of Memorial Park were delighted to announce that following this week's easing of Covid-19 restrictions, and after careful consideration by Stockport Council and contractor Canvas Spaces, Marple Skatepark Phase II construction works will start early next week commencing 18 May and last for approximately 6 weeks. At present exact timing of the follow-on works to refurbish the basketball court and turn it into a Multi-User-GAmes Facility is uncertain, primarily due to issues around material supply.
20 May 2020
Here are a few "before" shots from early this morning and an "in progress" from Lewis this afternoon.
29 May 2020
Phase II refurbishment is coming along nicely. Here are some progress shots taken over the last few days.
31 May 2020
Here's a little update showing status at the end of May...
6 June 2020
Here are a few photos of recent progress on the skatepark top section refurbishment, including the latest one from Lewis.
We can also now give you a bit of an update on how the project is expected to continue over the next few weeks.
It has been confirmed that the fencing materials we need to complete the conversion of the basketball court to a MUGA have been delayed due to Covid19 and are on a 12 week delivery, which takes them out to around September 2020. It has therefore been decided to proceed with the preparation and resurfacing works as far as possible now and then the contractor will return to install the fencing when it is available and then finish off by marking out the playing courts.
So, barring any unforeseen problems, we expect the skatepark top section to be completed some time next week and the basketball court refurbishment to commence straight away.
The skatepark will remain fenced off and closed until the basketball resurfacing works are completed too. We expect this to be towards the end of June.
Please note that reopening of the whole facility will be a council decision and will also depend on the Covid19 situation at the time as well as the completion of the works.
22 June 2020
We're pleased to advise that the Phase II upgrade to Marple Skatepark has been approved by RoSPA and they are happy for the skatepark to reopen, as are the council.
As we've mentioned before, although the former basketball area area has been resurfaced there is a long wait for the sports fencing that we need to complete the conversion to a MUGA. This is expected in September, so the area will remain as it is until then. Other works still to do include the fitting of railings to the back of the new ramp on the top section, and repainting of the vertical surfaces throughout the whole skatepark. We expect these things to happen during week commencing 29 June.
We hope users enjoy what we've achieved and we're sorry that we can't have a formal relaunch at the present time.
16 October 2020
The long-awaited fencing materials for the completion of the upgrade of the basketball court in Marple Memorial Park to create a Multi-User Games facility have finally been delivered.
The sports area materials were delayed by a factory closure caused by the Covid19 pandemic but they are here at last and work is expected to start next week commencing 19th October and be completed by the end of that week. This final stage of Marple Skatepark Phase 2 will include construction of 5-a-side goals, new basketball hoops and marking out of the playing courts. There will be a spectator fence along the top side of the court too.
Once everything is finished Friends of the Park plan to assess the dynamics of the whole area with the council and talk to them about re-siting litter bins.
As always it seems, there is still some work to complete and this has been hampered by Covid19. We still have to set-out the court markings on the MUGA surface; there are some repairs to do on the older ramps and some landscaping works outstanding. There is work to do at the MUGA entrance and we would like to tarmac over the green rubber mulched area near to the poppy feature. We hope to have more news on these items soon and complete a review of the rubbish bins with the council too.