Steyning parish drops skate park in shock decision

Councillors Phil Bowell, Gill Ness-Collins, Martin Toomey and David Barling on Memorial Playing Field
Councillors Phil Bowell, Gill Ness-Collins, Martin Toomey and David Barling on Memorial Playing Field

Following a long battle, Steyning Parish Council has released a statement this week that it will not be able to ‘deliver skateboard facilities for the young people’.

Horsham District Council (HDC) advised the parish that it could not approve its planning application to build a skate park on Steyning’s Memorial Playing Field (MPF) due to the Village Green status.

The Land Preservation Act was placed on the MPF site by West Sussex County Council (WSCC) in February 2013, following an application by a member of a local protest group, Friends of the Memorial Playing Field (FoMPF). This prevents any type of development from taking place on the field.

A representative at Steyning Parish Council said: “Due to the Village Green status, Steyning Parish Council is unable, at this present time, to deliver skateboard facilities in the Memorial Playing Field to the young people of Steyning and therefore is, regrettably, withdrawing its planning application.

“We are extremely disappointed and upset at being placed in the position of regrettably having to withdraw our planning application.”

This follows a long dispute between action group FoMPF, which submitted its own application to build a skate park in the Steyning Centre car park as an alternative location to the MPF.

The parish also claims that the Village Green status was ‘improperly registered’.

The representative continued: “Having due regard to all other users of the Memorial Playing Field and, for their future benefit, the parish council will now seek legal advice to rectify the Village Green status on the Memorial Playing Field.”

The parish has been pushing forward with a proposal to build a skateboard facility for the youth of Steyning after a Town Poll indicated a desire for it. The planning application was due to be heard in May 2014, but was subsequently delayed by HDC until June and then July.

However, during this time, the parish was advised by HDC that the planning officer was going to recommend approval.

In August 2014 HDC requested a meeting with the parish where they were informed about the Village Green implication.

The representative said: “The parish has had wonderful support from a majority of the residents of Steyning of all ages, and we cannot thank them enough.

“It is well known that the local protest group submitted an alternative planning application for a skateboard facility at the Steyning Leisure Centre car park.

“The owners of this site (the Grammar School and the County Council) have stated emphatically that they will not give permission for it to be built there.”

The decision of HDC to refuse this application is being appealed by the protest group.

The parish has stated that they will not support this site.