It’s been great to follow the development of this community space from start to finish. We spoke to Fiona Butcher, one of our Placemaking and Partnership Managers, about the project.
Hi Fiona! We’re excited to hear more about the skatepark in Newmarket, do tell us more...
How did the project start?
The project began in early 2017 when we began our new placemaking model in Newmarket. Placemaking is a community development strategy, which sees us support and empower people, partners, and stakeholders to make meaningful changes within their communities. We find out which issues that are important to communities and work with community members and local stakeholders to support and develop key interventions to make changes. Through my engagement work with the local community and key stakeholders in Newmarket, I became involved in the Newmarket Skate Park Project.
How did the pupils from Newmarket Academy get involved?
The students from Newmarket Academy approached Will Wright from West Suffolk Council, where they identified the need for the old skatepark to be refurbished or replaced. It wasn’t fit for purpose and was becoming dangerous for those who used it. The young people established a working group with the help and support of Will. Through this group, they established a project plan to engage with key stakeholders in Newmarket to help them realise their vision for a new and improved skate park.
How and why did we get involved and support this project?
I was approached for funding by the young people. They were aware of our placemaking work in Newmarket and felt the project would be a great fit. They presented their project plan and I could immediately see it tied into the work we were looking to achieve in Newmarket. The project wanted to improve upon an existing leisure facility that was an important feature of the local community. We agreed to support the project and we provided £70k of funding to replace the existing structure.
How does this fit into our placemaking work?
Empowering communities to make meaningful changes is key to the success of placemaking. We support the local community, partners and stakeholders with projects that bring about improvements to spaces, areas, and lives. The Newmarket Skate Park project is a fantastic example of placemaking. It allowed us to support a group of young people who were empowered to improve upon a key facility for not only themselves, but other young people in Newmarket.
What do our customers think of the finished skate park?
“I’m really pleased with it, I remember when we first had the model, we built it all out of clay, and there were just so many different ideas. I’m just so happy with the way it’s all come together.”
The finished skate park is fantastic. It meets every expectation the young people had. It was designed, developed, and created by them. They have created their vision, they have made a space for others to visit, to enjoy, but most of all to be safe and secure. Allowing them a space to be themselves, a space to hang out with friends whilst doing the thing they love the most – skating. I am so proud of them, and all that they have achieved, even in the face of coronavirus and delays they never gave up. Although Orbit and other stakeholders supported them to create their vision, it was the young people’s determination to succeed that has created the space you see today.
What are you hoping that the new skatepark will bring to Newmarket?
The skatepark is now up and running for all to enjoy! Unfortunately, due to coronavirus restrictions we weren’t able to have a grand opening, however it has been brilliant to be able to pop down and see the skatepark being utilised and looked after so brilliantly by the young people of Newmarket. The skatepark that was once a disused and unsafe area has now become a vibrant, social area for young people to enjoy with their friends. I am hopeful that the skatepark will continue to aspire young people in the area to take ownership and make positive changes in their communities.
Thanks Fiona. It’s great to learn more about the history of the project and it’ll be great to see how local people use it going forward.
Our videographer has filmed this project from inception, through to the designs (created by the pupils) and finally to the opening. Take a look at our video about the project here: