A volunteer built skateboard park becomes the first ever DIY to be granted official skatepark status.

Credit: Celcio Santos

Bournbrook skatepark (part of the Birmingham Skate Spaces CIC) in Birmingham has just officially been crowned as the first ever DIY skatepark in the UK to be given formal skatepark status, making way for future projects of this kind as the popularity of skateboarding continues to grow.

The location of Bournbrook skatepark is on a recreational green space that has been in decline for decades, with its rectangular concrete play area filled with overgrown bushes and piles of waste, many of the residents fearful to walk through the area at night. However the Bournbrook skatepark project changed this and has blurred the lines between self-built community skateparks and a professional build.  Although primarily built by volunteers, Bournbrook was built in accordance with the relevant British Standards and has attracted some of the best-known skateboarders in the UK, including female Olympian 2020 Bombette Martin.

Local skater and resident Shaun Boyle felt driven to make a difference during the first lockdown. Shaun started clearing the bushes and waste and, with other skaters, built a small skateable ledge.  The project grew and Shaun was joined by many volunteers within the local skateboarding and resident community.  The volunteers cleared the whole area to build various concrete skatepark features, re-digging verges, planting flowers and small trees, drawing on the expertise of a diverse user and resident community.

Birmingham City Council had some initial concerns with the building of the skate park, but the volunteers were supported by professional skatepark builders, who were able to alleviate officers’ concerns and also teach young people within the Bournbrook community important trade skills that can unlock future career opportunities whilst ensuring their local facility met a high standard of design and build.   The City Council received further reassurance from ROSPA inspections arranged by the community themselves, which paved the way for the unofficial DIY project to become the UK’s first certified skateboard facility in the same year as skateboarding became an Olympic sport.

A skatepark project of this size and scale would’ve cost over £150,000 to build by a construction firm, but the project has been completed for much less, with funding coming Habito and Crowd Funding, with additional support from SBGB, Selco Building Supplies and Vans.

Berni Good, one of the Directors of the project said: “It’s incredible that we have managed to open a skatepark, built for the people, by the people, none of which would be possible without the volunteers and sponsors. From the beginning we realised the positive impact on the psychological wellbeing and general health of all involved, in particular within the subculture of skateboarding which is now being accepted in a more mainstream way.”

Shaun Boyle commented after the completion of the project: “ I am very pleased that the collective efforts of our community have led to such a monumental outcome. I think skateboarding should have more recognition for its potential to mobilise a wide community, including our ability to develop our own facilities.”

Bournbrook Skatepark is located in Selly Oak, Birmingham, and is now open to the public. Birmingham Skate Spaces have ambitious future plans for skateboard activation programmes across the city.  However, it has recently come to light that the new Bournbrook skatepark may now be at risk of demolition to make way for the extension of a nearby supermarket. The team at Bounrbrook has received overwhelming support from the local community by way of a petition to save the skatepark.

Visit www.birminghamskatespaces.co.uk to see more about the projects and to help support the long-term future of Bournbrook DIY.

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