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Skate Park Debate: South Hill vs Les Quennevais

There will be a straight shootout in the States Assembly next week on where to build Jersey's main skatepark.

The government will ask that it go at South Hill Gardens, rather than Senator Steve Pallett's choice of Les Quennevais Sports Centre.

A survey to ask islanders which one they'd prefer was launched last month - with 60% of 2,500 respondents backing South Hill.

The Assistant Minister with responsibility for Sport, Deputy Hugh Raymond, says they are supporting South Hill because the survey showed a clear preference for the St Helier site.

"Our objective is to build a modern, accessible and open facility which will become a hub where Jersey’s urban sports can flourish. The survey shows a clear preference for South Hill Gardens, and we are bringing an amendment to the P1/2021, so that the States Assembly can enable us to listen to the public sentiment and build the central skatepark there.

"The survey also demonstrated that skaters wanted satellite facilities in the east and west, and we intend to build a satellite park at Les Quennevais and are considering where the eastern facility should go.

"The survey also indicated that skaters wanted to use the facilities to socialise as well as practice, and that the public shared the Government’s passion for the project. We’re listening to what the respondents have said; there is no change in the Government’s commitment to deliver a skatepark and satellite facilities in 2021."

If that is agreed, a planning application should be submitted by the end of this month. The government says attention would then turn to creating smaller, satellite facilities in the east and west - including at Les Quennevais.

Channel 103 has contacted Deputy Raymond for an interview amid criticism of the survey, including that it failed to address South Hill's potential planning issues.

The South Hill site is within a Grade 2 listed place, a protected open space, the La Collette Outer Hazard zone and an area of archaeological importance.

Despite this, the feasibility report states that a Land Use Planning Assessment has confirmed the skate park development would be suitable within that hazard zone.

In that feasibility report, an updated site suitability assessment gave both options the same score. Les Quennevais had previously been given a score of 90.

However Senator Pallett has told Channel 103 the two sites 'are not equal', even though the study says they are.

He's described the chances of getting planning permission to build Jersey's main skatepark at South Hill Gardens are 'slim to zero'.

The former Assistant Minister also questioned the sentiment outlined in the survey for South Hill, given that the feasibility study wasn't published when the survey was live.

"They didn't base it on having knowledge of the feasibility report and they certainly didn't have the information I think they needed to make any type of judgement on which site was appropriate.

"In terms of its (South Hill Gardens') heritage and archaeological value, it has been totally underestimated.

"I think somebody needs to reassess this and maybe decide that actually Les Quennevais is the right site for this before we end up wasting even more money.

"If we want to build it on budget and build it on time, the only way to build it, under those two criteria, is Les Quennevais."

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