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The former Sainsbury’s building on Commercial Road was purchased by Portsmouth City Council for long-term development plans, and in the meantime, their new tenants have produced visual plans for a skatepark in the city centre. Undercover Skatepark Project, who hope to open their doors to the public at the end of the year, are now able to give people a sneak preview of what the ground floor will look like.

Portsmouth’s first indoor skatepark will have a variation of ramps, ledges, and rails set out to create endless skating combinations within a circuit. One third of the building will be used for roller discos but will also double up as a shared space for other creative activities. A shop, café and social area will also feature.

Jacob Skinner, tenant and founder of the project said, “Phase one of the design concentrates on the ground floor and we have worked with a professional designer to finalise our layout. There will be elements of street and park obstacles to create a sleek design to suit the space we have but ultimately, there will be something for everyone, whether you are a beginner or an elite athlete in all genres of wheeled sports. The first floor will be designed in the next phase and will focus on other creative activities that we’re really looking forward to sharing with everyone soon.”

Having made its debut at this year’s Summer Olympics, skateboarding has reached a new global audience and Jacob is looking to capitalise on this recent exposure.

Jacob said, “I really think people got a chance to see just how exciting skateboarding is, not to mention the skill and dedication involved at the highest level. But I hope what people really noticed was just how much fun the competitors and spectators were having. The spirit of the skating community is very alive right now.

Undercover Skatepark Project is now pursuing crowdfunding and are currently in talks with local businesses who are keen to donate products and services.

Jacob said, “There are many avenues of funding we are tapping into including private sponsorship and donations.  We have just received the news that Beach Dubbin’ have raised £3500 for our cause. Thank you Beach Dubbin’! We still have a Go Fund Me live, which you can access though our website. If anyone wants to talk further about sponsorship and the rewards we are offering, we are open to conversations.”

Cllr Ben Dowling, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure & Economic Development said, “As we continue to move away from lockdown restrictions safely, many people will be thinking about recapturing ways of socialising, revisiting or learning new hobbies, and being more physically active. Jacob’s vision for the skatepark will provide all of those things and so I understand why there is much excitement for this within our city centre. We fully support diverse and inclusive activities within the city centre that encourage good health and communities coming together.

Hopefully, Undercover Skatepark Project will be able to achieve the funding and next steps they need to progress and I wish them every success in making this happen.”

The long-term plans for this entire site and the rest of the city centre will emerge in more detail, once the public have been given the opportunity to comment on the council’s upcoming Local Plan. The Local Plan looks at building new homes, opportunities for local jobs, the facilities and high quality spaces we need, and how we protect our environment. The public consultation for the Local Plan will run from 17 September – 31 October 2021. More details about this will be published on the council’s website and in a leaflet, which will be delivered city-wide.

Cllr Ben Dowling continued, “Now it is time for people to help us shape and influence our city centre by telling us what is important to them, and they can do this through the Local Plan. People’s opinions on how we develop these areas, will help us to create something exciting and sustainable for the future.”