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Work set to begin on 'recreation space' for Bishop's Stortford's teenagers



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Construction of a "teenage recreation space" in Sworder's Field is set to begin this year as part of a £200,000 investment in Castle Park.

The Bishop's Stortford Town Council project has faced "significant delays" while drainage issues have been resolved.

The same issues have delayed the building of a £150,000 family-friendly facility for wheeled sports close by and work is now set to begin at the end of 2021 or early next year. It will take shape on land in the north of Sworder's Field, in a currently overgrown area between Link Road car park and the skate park.

Visualisation of teenage recreation space (44780887)
Visualisation of teenage recreation space (44780887)

The progress was confirmed at the meeting of the town council's environment and public amenities committee last Monday evening (Mar 1). Members also learned that a contract has finally been signed to improve the water supply to the splash park in Castle Gardens which will reduce refilling times.

Councillors were joined at the meeting by stunt scooter rider Luke Stokoe, who urged them to consult the town's urban sports fans to ensure the skate park revamp meets their needs.

They invited him to liaise with town council chief executive James Parker to ensure designer Freestyle incorporates their ideas.

Wheeled sports area - artist's impression (44780895)
Wheeled sports area - artist's impression (44780895)

As well as repairs and repainting of the existing skate area, the scheme includes a concrete extension, a parkour area, a zip line, timber adventure play features, seating, a shelter, gym equipment, retention of the graffiti wall, refurbishment of the basketball court and a climbing wall.

In addition to suggesting how the plans could be improved, Luke emphasised why the facilities for the town's teenagers were needed, with a plea to parents of toddlers. Although he has been commended by Herts police for his mentorship of young riders and boarders, he said much younger children were now playing in the area reserved for those aged over 11.

He said: "Every time some little kids go on the skate park everyone waits to see where they'll run, but when we try and talk to the parents they think we're trying to stop the kids having fun, but it's not the case."

All ages will be able to use the new wheeled sports area, which will be suitable for BMX riders, mountain bikers, skateboarders, scooters and WMX wheelchair users.

Plan of teenage recreation space (44780862)
Plan of teenage recreation space (44780862)

Mr Parker told the committee a more challenging track for skilled riders was being planned at Birchwood High School.

Overall, more than £2.6m is being spent on enhancements to Castle Gardens and Sworder's Field after a successful £1.9m grant bid to the National Lottery to create Castle Park.

The town council and East Herts Council are working with Hertfordshire County Council's Countryside Management Service to deliver a raft of improvements.

Skate park in Sworder's Field (44781165)
Skate park in Sworder's Field (44781165)

This includes creation of three new tennis courts close to the teenage recreation space so sports facilities are concentrated in one area.

Mr Parker said there was concern that trees were being felled to make space for the 'permeable macadam' courts with crushed stone access paths, but he stressed that overall the Castle Park project would increase the number of trees on the site.

The site of tree clearance just north of Sworder's Field (44781140)
The site of tree clearance just north of Sworder's Field (44781140)


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