St Albans skate park seeks guarantee of future

The Pioneer Club

The Pioneer Club - Credit: Archant

A FIRM commitment that a popular skate park in St Albans will remain open even if the site is sold to a developer is needed to safeguard its future.

This is the view that has been expressed by The Pioneer Club who runs the facility and has feared for its survival since Herts County Council (HCC) put the former Ariston Works site up for sale.

With the land in Harpenden Road due to be sold in “due course”, the charity wants assurance from the council that their service will be reprovided for.

Club chairman Anne Brooks said: “We want to make sure that the future of the charity is at the top of the agenda. If we are not reprovided for that will be the end of the 70-year-old charity.

“We have over 1,000 visitors to our skate park each month and we have to ask where are they going to be going if they don’t come to The Pioneer Club.

“We provide a safe, happy, fun environment for people of all ages to come and enjoy urban sports. I think closing it down would be a massive mistake and a real loss to the local community.”

At a full St Albans district council meeting on Tuesday councillors showed united support for The Pioneer Club and reaffirmed their view that it should keep running on the site.

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St Albans MP Anne Main has also written to the leader of HCC and said the council should buy into the centre in order to prevent it from closing.

The Pioneer Club runs a skate park which was built in 1987 and is the oldest indoor centre in the UK. It also manages a youth club where artists such as high-flying local band Enter Shikari played some of their first gigs.

A spokesman for HCC said: “The county council is currently drafting accommodation briefs for potential buyers of the Harpenden Road site.

“These set out our expectation that any developer applying for planning permission would provide alternative or replacement facilities for provision of the current facilities at the site, including the Pioneer Club.

“Once we have finalised the accommodation briefs we will consult interested parties, including St Albans district council, the Judo Club and the Pioneer Club. The briefs will be issued to shortlisted bidders who have expressed an interest in the site only once that process has happened.”