Skate park and leisure centre to be dismantled

Desborough Skate Park
Desborough Skate Park

Desborough skate park and the Hawthorns leisure centre next to it will both be dismantled to make way for a housing estate.

Kettering Council’s Executive Committee last night voted to knock down the Hawthorns which locals tried in vain to keep open while the authority built a newer centre in Ironwood Avenue.

The skate park, which is part of the site, had a big re-opening in March after skaters, parents, and community groups worked throughout the winter to refurbish it with no council funding.

But the council, which owns the site, are likely to serve notice on Desborough Youth Action Group (DYAG), telling them to quit the site by summer or autumn next year.

The lease DYAG had on the site ran out in 2007, and the council claims it has not been paid by the group in two years.

Plenty of speakers spoke out against the plan at the meeting.

Belinda Humfrey, chairman of DYAG, said: “Many youngsters spent 14 freezing weekends to totally renew the 11 ramps on the park.

“There is nowhere else in the town for a skate park.”

Kettering Council says it will work with the charity, the skaters, and the town council to assist them in finding a new location for a skate park.

Speaking at the meeting, Kettering councillor Alison Wiley said: “We absolutely know that there has to be somewhere for that age group to go and let off steam.”

The council estimates if the park stays open, land value will reduce by a sixth.

It also claims the Hawthorns centre has been boarded up and vandalised since it closed down when the newer centre opened up in May elsewhere in the town.

Paula Holmes, of of Desborough Community Development Trust, who had a plan to take over the Hawthorns last declined last year, said: “The town deserves better as do the children.”

Kettering Councillor Steve Bellamy said: “If we pay money to maintain the centre in its current state for two or three years, then that is a bad use of public funds.”

The building costs £27,000 a year to maintain.

The council estimates just over 100 houses could be built on the site.