The teen-backed BMX and skate project facing another big challenge


A teenager who has been trying for three years to get an outdoor track for BMX riders and snowboarders said he was frustrated with the negative response to the proposal from the Swansea Council planning department.

Jake Gates and two friends Elliott Wadley and Jed Wood have been investigating, knocking on doors, raising funds and trying to encourage so much support for the project since October 2018.

“It’s a great feeling when adults listen to you,” said Jake, 15, of Bishopston, Gower. “The idea is to get people off their screens.”

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The efforts of the Bishopston Skatepark Project and their supporters have included organizing skateboarding sessions for elementary school students, a sponsored 24-hour trampoline challenge, and a presentation to the Bishopston Community Council.

They spoke to their local police officer, the National Lottery, a BMX track designer, as well as an environmentalist and site historian, on Mansel Green, Murton, which was selected as the best location for the free track.

Jake said the original idea was to create a skate park, but a consultation revealed a preference for a pump track – a hilly asphalt course for BMX riders but also skateboarders and scooter riders.

Image of the proposed pump runway at Mansel Green, Murton

He said the community council agreed with the project and permission to use the Mansel Green area in question had been given by the Gower Commoners Association.

Swansea Council, he said, had provided almost £ 5,000 in grants for things like design and planning costs, while Ward Councilor Lyndon Jones had been very supportive.

In May, Jake’s mother submitted a pre-application request to council for a 684 m² pump runway on Mansel Green, along with additional documents. These included a letter from the community council who, along with the Bishopston Skatepark Project, want to add nature trails and improve the area around the proposed pumping trail.

But council planning officers said countryside recreation proposals, like Mansel Green, would only be allowed if they were economically viable, helped improve tourism, and could not be located in or near by. of an existing colony. Access and impact on residents were also key considerations.

Officers said the pump runway would not provide any economic benefit and that the land opposite, at the Murton Green playing fields, was considered a better location and was within a defined settlement boundary.

The man-made bumps in the pump track, they added, “would dramatically change the moorland character” of the site, with garbage cans and seats making the problem worse.

Officers said they had been told there were “significant concerns” about the proposed location, but added that residents – the closest of whom would be 130 meters away – would not be adversely affected.

Jake Gates (left), Elliott Wadley and Jed Wood (right), pictured in September 2020

Jake said he was disappointed, especially given the support from other departments on the board. He also said he was told the response would come after three weeks, rather than the 15 weeks that have passed. Planning officers apologized for the delay.

When asked if there was any opposition to the proposal, Jake said people asked about it but changed their minds and came to support it.

“It’s a shame that the planning department has given so much negative feedback, but we’ll really try to take it into account,” he said.

“We will address any issues and concerns they have. We are already working on getting ecological studies.”

But Bishopston’s general pupil said everything was on hold at the moment and he feared there would be extended delays if surveys were to be carried out at specific times of the year.

He thanked everyone who donated to the project, which would cost £ 70,000-80,000 to build, and said he was determined to make it happen.

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Jake’s mother, Sally-Anne Gates, said he was persistent and always looked on the bright side of things.

She added: “He’s not afraid of people saying ‘no’.”

Cllr Jones said he has supported Jake, Elliott and Jed from the start.

“At first they didn’t have a lot of support, but we’ve come a long way,” he said. “We did a survey, which I paid for personally, and there was a phenomenal response.

“Since then the community council and citizens have also joined us. There is now huge support and there is a need in the community.”

Cllr Jones said construction firm Kier, which works on Bishopston, will help Jake and his supporters prepare a detailed planning request.

He said the planners’ response was disappointing, but added: “These issues now need to be addressed.”

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