The Banchory Skate Park Group can finally move forward with the building of the project after five years of planning and waiting.
The group has been hoping to renovate and expand the skate park in Bellfield Park in Banchory since 2017.
Now they have successfully secured the lease to the land and raised the £220,000 funding needed to get them started, they are “spade ready”.
Weather permitting, building work is due to begin in March 2022 and a 12-week build should mean the skate park is ready to be opened to the public next summer.
Russ Crichton is chairman of the Banchory Skate Park Group, which is a registered charity.
He said the group were “delighted” to be one step closer to a brand new facility after years of hard work.
“We started in 2017 and then we set up the Banchory Skate Park charity in 2018 so we’ve just been going through the process of doing feasibility studies,” he said. “Getting the planning application approved, doing environmental assessments.
“It was frustrating trying to get the lease negotiated, that was really hard because without it we couldn’t go for funding.
“Once we got that lease approved that allowed us to move forward and actually run the skatepark.”
Local youth group
Banchory skate park is entirely led by the charity, which is unique as many others are run by local authorities.
Mr Crichton explained the central role the local youth group plays in the running of Banchory Skate Park Group: “The kids that started as part of the youth group, as they’re coming towards their fourth and fifth years we basically bring them onto the committee.
“The idea is that we’ll transition these young guys into running the skate park group.
“What we’re doing is bringing these young guys onto the team to make sure we’re doing what they want but also to give them the opportunity to know how to run this kind of activity, how to learn from it and how to manage a skate park.”
There are seven youth group members now on the committee between the ages of 13 and 19. They are responsible for running the group’s social media and presenting the group for potential funding opportunities.
He highlighted the work of Carol Douglas, a community learning and development officer in Banchory who helped the youth group develop the initial skate park around 10 years ago.
Mr Crichton said: “I could never have done it without Carol, she works with all the young kids in the community and essentially looks for opportunities for them outside of the classroom.”
‘The skate park meant a lot to them’
Mr Crichton is a skateboarder himself and set his sights on securing a new park for Banchory after noticing the current one had fallen into disrepair.
Throughout lockdown, it became apparent how many people in the community relied on the skate park to keep them going.
Mr Crichton explained: “There were a few guys who had been using the skatepark all the way through lockdown and quite a few of them said they couldn’t really state how important it was to them.
“It was a huge thing for them, it was their opportunity to be outside and doing something constructing, as well as something on your own. That’s the beauty of skate parks, you go to the skate park with your friends but actually it’s what you do, you have as much fun as you want, you’re not reliant on a team member.
“A lot of the young guys said the skate park meant a lot to them, it wasn’t just a habit it was allowing them to be outside and doing something constructive, it was good for mental health.”
‘Build them the best skate park we possibly can’
Concreate Skateparks Ltd has been announced as the contractor for the build.
Though the group has raised enough money to get the project going, Mr Crichton is hoping to secure more and reach an ultimate goal of £260,000.
“Over the last two or three months we’ve started to land all our funding,” he said
“We’ve got awards from quite a few landfill funds and essentially we’ve raised enough money to commence the build straight after winter next year.
“I would really love an industry sponsor, I would love someone from the Aberdeenshire business community to partner with us and possibly step in with a half-decent capital donation to get us up to the full amount.
“It would reflect well on them and on the time and effort the youth group has put in. It would be great to build them the best skate park we possibly can.”
In the meantime, the group holds regular fundraising events to push them further towards their goal.
You can donate to the Banchory Skate Park Group on their GoFundMe page.