Work to begin later this year on St Helens town centre skate park

Construction of a 192,000 urban skate park in St Helens is expected to begin later this year
Construction of a 192,000 urban skate park in St Helens is expected to begin later this year

Construction of a £192,000 urban skate park in St Helens is expected to begin later this year after a grant from Sports England was secured.

Planning approval for Bliss Park, which is between Chalon Way car park and Foundry Street, was granted last April.

The development is being led by arts agency Heart of Glass in conjunction with Merseyside Police and St Helens Council, which will maintain the site once it’s completed.

Construction had been expected to begin early this year, but the project fell behind schedule while the council and Heart of Glass waited on the outcome of a Sports England grant bid for £50,000.

Roy Benyon, the council’s head of place and delivery, told the safer communities overview and scrutiny panel this week that the bid has been successful.

Heart of Glass signed off the final re-design of Bliss Park after securing the grant, Mr Benyon said. The design has been developed in collaboration with Studio Morison, an artist-led creative practice.

Mr Benyon said the council is now aiming for construction to commence in the first quarter of 2019-20.

“Through the partnership and the commitment of all partners, we have moved through the issues raised over the last couple of years and we are now moving forward,” Mr Benyon said.

“The next steps for the skate park, which is to be named Bliss Park, are as follows. We will continue working with Heart of Glass and Studio Morrison.

“The council are looking to contract the build. Groundworks should hopefully happen as soon as that contract is in place.

“Following confirmation of the latest funding grant from Sports England, it is hopeful that the construction of the skate park will commence in the next quarter of 2019.”

The project came about due to perceived anti-social behaviour around Church Square, a popular destination for skaters.

Merseyside Police have committed £65,000 from the Community Cash Back Fund, which utilises money obtained through the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Mr Benyon said Heart of Glass has secured £77,000 of Arts Council funding. Added to the Sports England grant, the total funds for the project totals £192,000.

Bliss Park will take approximately six months to construct, Mr Benyon said. An official launch event will be held once it is completed.

Heart of Glass will lead on a public engagement programme and also plan to carry out a variety of community programmes, including a potential exchange with young skaters from Stuttgart.

“The site will have international significance,” Mr Benyon said. “It is unique to St Helens and will attract media attention.

“Heart of Glass and St Helens Council, along with Merseyside Police continue to meet regularly to discuss project developments to do with Bliss Park.

“Bliss Park is an exciting and unique new proposition for the town centre.

“It represents green shoots of recovery and will build an evidence-base for innovation and the use of arts and culture as a strategy in the town centre’s development moving forward.”