Heavenly halfpipes: Church given go-ahead for skatepark conversion

Sam Avery at the disused St Peter Parmentergate church

Sam Avery at the disused St Peter Parmentergate church in King Street where he plans an indoor skate park. - Credit: Denise Bradley

The prayers of skateboarders have been answered after plans to convert an old Norwich church into a new skatepark were approved. 

Sam Avery, owner of the Drug Store in Bridewell Alley, had submitted plans to turn St Peter Parmentergate Church in King Street into an indoor skatepark with retail space and a cafe.

The 15th century building has stood empty for more than two years after the Norwich Martial Arts Academy moved out in 2018.

Norwich City Council planners have now approved a change of use saying the works will result in “less than substantial harm” to the overall heritage value and significance of the listed building.

Sam Avery in the disused St Peter Parmentergate church in King Street, where he is moving his Drug S

Sam Avery in the disused St Peter Parmentergate church in King Street. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

“The proposed use is considered to be beneficial to the long term preservation of the designated heritage asset,” they added. 

As part of the plans, protective walls will be placed around the nave which will become a skating area with ramps.

How the indoor skatepark could look at the disused St Peter Parmentergate Church

How the indoor skatepark could look at the disused St Peter Parmentergate Church - Credit: Community East

Statues of Richard Berney and Elizabeth Hobart at St Peter Parmentergate, King Street, Norwich. Phot

Statues of Richard Berney and Elizabeth Hobart at St Peter Parmentergate church which be protected by screens. - Credit: Archant © 2007

Screens will protect key historic features of the church including the Lion Font and a 17th century monument to Richard Berney and Elizabeth Hobart.

Thirteen people had objected to the proposed changes raising concerns about noise and the impact on neighbouring people but it was supported by 12 submissions.

One of those backing it stated: “An indoor facility in the city centre is a wonderful idea and making use of a beautiful space which needs new life breathed into it. 

Sam Avery with some of his skateboards in the disused St Peter Parmentergate church in King Street,

Sam Avery in the disused St Peter Parmentergate church in King Street. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

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“Skateboarding is an important activity for mental and physical health and has a lovely community around it.”

Mr Avery has long campaigned for Norwich to become a more “skate-friendly” city and was involved with the building of Eaton skatepark in 2010. 

Outlining last year why he thought a new facility was needed, he said: “It can be a really positive activity but it's difficult when there isn't a place for people to do it without feeling like that going to be harassed, kicked out, sent packing, shouted out or abused in some way.” 

How the indoor skatepark could look at the disused St Peter Parmentergate Church

How the indoor skatepark could look at the disused St Peter Parmentergate Church - Credit: Community East

His vision is that the church would be a fully supervised skateboard school with coaches qualified to teach the now Olympic sport. 

As it will be aimed at beginners’ training it will not feature the kind of large-scale ramps seen in conventional skateparks.