At least in heaven I can skate: Bid to turn church into skatepark unveiled
- Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021
Things are on the up for skateboarding buffs long-deprived of city centre practice spots, as plans to convert an old Norwich church into a skatepark are unveiled.
Sam Avery, owner of the Drug Store on Bridewell Alley, submitted plans to Norwich City Council's planning portal on September 6, outlining his hopes to transform St Peter Parmentergate Church on King Street in to an indoor skatepark.
The 15th century building has stood empty for more than two years after the Norwich Martial Arts Academy moved out in 2018.
In the design and access statement, plans show that the nave would be used as a skateboarding training area, with classes from certified coaches.
The Drug Store shop would be in the chancel in the east side of the building, and a cafe at the western end of the nave.
Talking to the Evening News earlier this year, Mr Avery stressed that the city's "attitude" towards skaters needs to change, and that his church refurb would give them a space to practice safely and away from prying eyes.
He said: "With any group you have the odd bad kid but 99pc of skateboarders are pleasant, respectful people.
“But skating gets treated like an anti-social activity when it isn’t.
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"It actually has physical and mental health benefits.
“Skateboarding came from the streets and it will always be a street activity. But skateparks are useful for people to be safe, to learn and practice."
The news is a welcome relief for 21-year-old skateboarding fanatic Alex Williams, who said existing out-of-city skateparks like Eaton were becoming "overcrowded" as skateboarders, roller skaters, BMXers and children on scooters vie for space.
The former president of UEA's skate society said: "I absolutely love what Sam is doing here. It's fantastic.
"Now skateboarding is in the Olympics it's become mad popular, and has helped legitimise the sport.
"But we'll never reach world class if we're just shouted away from every spot we use to practice.
"I think this skatepark will be good for the people who do find us a nuisance. The sound will be muffled, and it'll get people off the streets.
"Skating does wonders for people's mental health, and it truly is for everyone."