A PROJECT which has brought joy to hundreds of skater boys and girls from Petersfield and beyond has received a prestigious award.
The Petersfield Society has given its Owl Award to the town council for their part in making the skatepark extension at Love Lane recreation ground a reality.
The award is given to projects which have made significant contributions to the town and its surrounding area. Previous recipients have included the 6A Vision development at Clarendon Close, Steep Parish Plan and the Art & Design building at Bedales School.
The skatepark was a massive success when it opened in 2010 but Nigel Wells, Roger Parkes and the Festival for Young People always wanted an extension.
A £200,000 donation from Bedford Road firm Aspire Pharma to the town paid for the extension, which includes safe routes for disabled and less adventurous users.
The town council facilitated the extension but deputy town clerk, Steve Field, dedicated the award to Nigel and Roger during the Society’s recent AGM, saying: “These two gentlemen had the vision."
He added: “I think this is very much their vision and we should thank them the next time we see them – so thank you, Nigel and Roger.”
Commendations were handed to The Winton House Centre, Shine Radio and the ‘Water Meadow to People Meadow’ scheme during the event at the United Reformed Church
Charles Bevan accepted the award for the former, described as a welcoming hub run for the community, by the community. He also encouraged more volunteers and trustees to join, saying the WHC is “for all of us”.
Shine Radio was recognised for supporting the Petersfield’s strong community with its volunteer-run broadcasts.
“We’re all volunteers and all have full-time jobs and families but we do what we do because we love the community and getting out and about,” said Kirsty Meredith.
There was also a thanks for Peter Marshall as the group’s treasurer had stepped down after 12 years, and a guest appearance by Hampshire CPRE chair, Margaret Paren, who gave a speech about the group's work in the county.
But the Liss Forest resident also gave a gloomy assessment of the planning system during the showpiece event, calling it "near enough broken" with standards for more sustainable and green development being watered down.
She said: “The Code for Sustainable Homes was cancelled by the government in 2015 and that’s had a big impact.
“The planning system is pretty much broken at the moment and there’s no spatial strategy. We have all these authorities trying to meet targets set by government but it’s all a bit of a free for all.”
Mrs Paren played a major part in the successful bid to get parts of East Hampshire and the Western Weald included in the South Downs National Park.
She later became chairman of its authority and now holds the same role with the Hampshire branch of the CPRE.