Innovative skateboard-friendly public space to open in Nottingham

Plans have today been unveiled to create a skateboarding area in Nottingham’s Broad Marsh area, the site of a large former shopping centre and has created a major opportunity to reimagine a city centre space, making space for public green spaces and sites for leisure and physical exercise, including skateboarding.

The project is a collaboration between Nottingham City Council, Skate Nottingham and Skateboard GB.  Together, the partners will create an all-weather, well-lit, free-to-use ‘skate friendly’ public space.  This ‘blank canvas’ will then be filled with several modular pieces of skateable street furniture, designed and built with Betongpark, a specialist firm responsible for recent skateboarding installations at Somerset House and The Strand, in London.

With the success of last summer’s Olympic Games, when Sky Brown became Team GB’s youngest ever summer medallist, there has been a huge increase in skateboarding across all ages and genders. This is particularly the case in Nottingham, hometown to 13-year-old Miriam Nelson, this year’s National Champion in the women’s street discipline,

Nottingham City Council and Skate Nottingham have been working with a wide range of local and international experts to design the space, close to the entrance of Nottingham Caves and Nottingham Contemporary and part of the wider Sussex Street development that runs from the new Nottingham College city campus.  The space will be surrounded by a perimeter ledge (skateable only on the inside edge) between the skate area and the pedestrian footpath and entrance to the Caves and will be bordered by a semi-permanent hoarding that will provide a canvas for street art and collaborative exhibition space for local skate community. This site also has special significance to UK skate history, close to the iconic Broad Marsh Banks, which graced UK and US skate mags before their demolition in 2008.

The design process has already been ground-breaking.  More than 100 local young people participated in a co-design project that culminated in this film for the 2021 Nottingham Festival of Science and Curiosity, where they were mentored by engineer Bedir Bekar (Pryce & Meyers and University College London) and designer Rich Holland, who’s ‘HomeCourt’ skate landscape for Nike’s European headquarters was shortlisted for the prestigious ArchDaily Building of the Year Award 2022.

The forms will be able to be moved, as the wider Broad Marsh plan develops, enabling a flexible space that can change to complement other developments.  It will be very different from a traditional ‘skatepark’ and will fit into the wider feel of Sussex Street, which will include a flexible events area, basketball hoops and outdoor public seating.  This has undergone a complete makeover through Transforming Cities-funded improvements to streets around the new Broad Marsh car park, bus station and Central Library building.

Skate Nottingham who delivered 3000 free skateboarding sessions and have been recently awarded a National Lottery Awards for All grant of almost £10,000 to fund an ambitious 9-month programme of opening activities from the site, including free weekly beginners’ and women and girls only skateboard sessions along with the regular presence of trained coaches as good role models, to ensure positive usage from its first opening.  They will also soon be launching a Crowdfunder UK campaign to help finance the installation of the skateable street furniture.

The partners will also work to maximise the careers, personal development and employability benefits for local young people involved in the project, including work experience and further study, and local online action sports retailer Supereight will partner with DC Shoes, to support a high-profile public opening event. This will add to the skate assets already in and around the city, including skater-owned skateshop Forty Two, Flo Skatepark, Rollersnakes in nearby Derby, and VF Corp (who own Vans).

Councillor David Mellen, Leader of Nottingham City Council and Portfolio Holder for Strategic Regeneration and Development, said: “This is a really forward-thinking project for our young people to get involved with and, when completed, will help to further enhance this key part of the Broad Marsh area.

“Sussex Street is taking shape quickly and has been totally transformed. Walking up into town from Canal Street now is a pleasant experience and we know what a difference it makes for students working out of the new college campus.

“Introducing a skateboard space fits in perfectly with the wider, more contemporary feel of the area and we look forward to seeing how it develops over the coming months.”

James Hope-Gill, CEO of Skateboard GB, said: “This is incredibly exciting, one year on from Team GB’s Olympic skateboarding medal.

“Cities like Nottingham taking the initiative to design skateboarding into a wider development that encourages socialising, urban sports and active play is really innovative, and helps us imagine how town centres can recover and re-invent themselves in exciting and inclusive ways while enabling more children and adults to Skate More, Skate Better.”

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