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Thurston resident, who is Ben Wragge Skate Park Charity trustee, hopes Sky Brown's Olympic glory can help push for new skatepark goal



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A Thurston resident inspired by Team GB’s Olympic success has called on Mid Suffolk District Council to finally end the shortage of facilities for older children in the village - before it is too late.

Roger Smith, who is a trustee of the Ben Wragge Skate Park Charity, watched 13-year-old Sky Brown win her bronze medal in the Women’s Park skateboarding event in Tokyo.

The charity, formerly Thurston Skate Park Group, has tried since 2016 to get a skate park built in memory of villager Ben Wragge who died in 2016, at the age of 13.

Grange Park in Thurston, being built by developers Bovis. Picture by Mecha Morton.
Grange Park in Thurston, being built by developers Bovis. Picture by Mecha Morton.

Roger said: “I watched that young girl do what she did and we have been trying for five years to get this on the road and been unsuccessful.

“But I feel now it is time, with all the village’s developments, that something is done as land is disappearing fast.”

Around 1,200 Thurston homes have planning approval from the council, with some under construction.

Hopkins Homes development - Thurston Park. Picture by Mecha Morton.
Hopkins Homes development - Thurston Park. Picture by Mecha Morton.

Roger said though each development has recreational areas, they are minimal and aimed at younger children.

With continued construction and no plans for something like a ‘wheeled sports facility’ as set out in the parish council’s neighbourhood plan, Roger feels the village could be heading for trouble.

He said: “These developments have been put in individually and agreed that way without a collective view. They are creating what will be a bit of a crisis in the village.”

Roger has written to councillors as well as MP Jo Churchill to ask what can be done.

Using evidence from Babergh and Mid Suffolk Council’s ‘A Review of Babergh and Mid Suffolk Open Spaces Assessment (May 2019)’ which stated there were shortcomings in the village’s facilities, Roger hopes they will listen.

He said: “Mid Suffolk are the planning authority who have this report, but they are also the ones approving these developments.

“The village will face a problem as all the new houses are filled and we will have more youngsters around that need space to play. I would challenge the council and ask what is the plan for here and where are the facilities to go with all these homes?”

In response, a Mid Suffolk District Council spokesperson said it was working with Thurston Parish Council and others to meet the communitiy’s needs.

Meanwhile, Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) money from developers to support infrastructure has already been used - including £1.2m to buy land for a Thurston Community College extension.

The spokesperson said: “We have also secured the creation of a new 630-place school using S106 agreements – in other words – legal obligations placed on developers as part of the planning process.

“In terms of a skateboard park, we will continue to look at this together with the Parish Council as part of the wider provision of sport and leisure facilities in the village.

“As part of our refreshed Leisure, Sports and Physical Activity Strategy we’re keen for everyone to have the facilities they need to improve their health and quality of life and are equally excited by Team GB’s successes, particularly in sports such as skateboarding and BMX, however, we must ensure public money is being spent where the local community needs it most.

“Thurston Parish Council has its own scheme for administering how it spends its Neighbourhood CIL and you can see more on their website."

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