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PLANNING ROW: Popular skate park ordered to clear site

PLANNING ROW: Popular skate park ordered to clear site

Dynamix Skatepark in Gateshead, Image: Newcastle Chronicle

A popular Gateshead skate park has been ordered to clean up its site as a planning row with the council drags on.

According to Dynamix’s website, the social enterprise is the “largest indoor skate park, circus training and performance centre in the North East”.

The Albany Road skate park is also popular with young people in the area.

The venue, which celebrated its tenth anniversary last December, has been closed during the Covid-19 pandemic – and its future is uncertain.

It has found itself embroiled in a planning row with Gateshead Council after the authority served it with an enforcement notice last October.

Temporary planning permission was granted for the skate park back in February 2011, after it had opened inside the former HFW Plastics factory.

A subsequent application to Gateshead Council, to continue using the warehouse as an indoor skate park, was withdrawn in 2015.

The authority issued an enforcement notice ordering it to shut down following complaints from the public.

Now, the owners of the park have been ordered to clear the site, authority documents have revealed.

A report on enforcement action, set to be heard by the council’s planning and development committee today (Wednesday) said the owners have been ordered to clean graffiti from the building and remove rubble from the site.

However, Rico Jakk, director, says that his park is suffering from the same litter problems that plague the rest of the industrial estate, and said the council should tackle the problem it self.

He said: “Part of the enforcement against us relates to the foliage growing from the site we lease, and storage of materials and vehicles on the site.

“Since before the Pandemic the council themselves had made massive cut backs in street cleaning and general maintenance of the local environment.

“There has been overgrown foliage and fly tipping and food rubbish on the streets (including a lot of littering from people who use the local McDonalds), and broken glass, and that’s everywhere on this industrial estate during the past eight years at least.

“Yet the council have budgets, thousands of paid workers and resources to do the work themselves.”

Mr Jakk and creative director Rosa Stourac-McCreery, want to work with the authority to stay on the land saying that it could help the community recover from the damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Their vision for the site would see around 200 shipping containers used to form a wave around the warehouse building, and if it came to fruition, could be the first of its kind in the world.

This landmark box park was inspired by the ECORRE complex proposed for Long Beach, California.

The design for the complex made it to the finals of the AIA-LA/USGBC design competition but didn’t make if off the drawing board.

It would be used by small businesses as well as for training courses for creative industries, events production and hospitality.

They are currently working on a temporary change of use planning proposal for the site along with “longer term” plans for the container community.

Working with local businesses they have also been developing a nightlife and events management course with accreditation to be delivered on site.

Students will develop sound, lighting, rigging and events-business management skills in a live setting as the site will be open to the public for a range of outdoor and indoor events all year round.

One of the problems they’ve faced is that they lease the building from a private landlord – on a temporary basis, something that Mr Jakk says means the project has to “live hand to mouth” with no job security for its staff.

He also warned that the young people who use the park are losing out, saying it can’t re-open without council support.

He said: “We’d like to know what the council are doing for the mental and emotional well-being of the children and young people who used to come to Dynamix?”

Ms Stourac-McCreery added:  “We have been inundated with calls to reopen the skatepark and people been visiting the site almost daily hoping to find the Skatepark open.”

A Gateshead Council spokesperson said the authority has made “many” attempts to get the site cleared.

They said: “For several years Gateshead Council has expressed concerns regarding the appearance of the Albany Road site. The site, which is located on a prominent corner plot and is a gateway site with much new development taking place around it, has been allowed to deteriorate so significantly that it has detrimental impact on the visual amenity of the wider area.

“We have attempted many times to encourage the landowner and tenant to tidy the land without the use of formal enforcement action, but this has been unsuccessful.  Although we have written to both the site operators and owners of the site requesting they improve the appearance of the land and buildings, the operators continued to bring waste materials and scrap vehicles on to the site.

“We have exhausted all avenues of informal discussions and had no other option but to serve a notice under s215 of the Town and Country planning act 1990 to improve the appearance of the land. The notice took effect on 27 September 2021 and they have three months to comply with the Notice. The requirements of the notice includes cutting back vegetation, cleaning graffiti from the building and removing waste from the land.

“Although all parties involved have the right to appeal the notice, to date, we have not been advised that an appeal has been submitted.”

The site has been at the centre of a tug-of-war in recent years, after developers tried and failed to build an £8.8m retail park on part of the site.


Words: Herbert Soden, Local Democracy Reporter

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