BOTH supporters and opponents of plans for a new Chippenham skate park and climbing centre turned out in force at the town hall to express their views.

The detailed plans from the Borough Lands charity for land off Westmead Lane, along with an outline application for a community hub and development of the Westmead recreation ground, came before Chippenham Town Council's planning, environment and transport committee on Wednesday (January 3) last week. Around 25 members of the public attended and many addressed the committee.

Sam Hind, 13, from Chippenham - who had a skateboard with him at the meeting - described the project as money spent in a good way to promote the town.

"There is nowhere to go for skating," he said. "Any anti social behaviour isn't caused by skaters. If we get a park then the anti social behaviour people are less likely to go there, it will be skaters."

David Ventura said he was totally in favour of the plan: "We need places for young people, and it's a great design, and it will be an asset to the town."

But Anna Hickman, a local resident who uses the field regularly, said anti social behaviour was her main concern, though she was also worried about access for emergency services and car parking space.

"There is already drug and alcohol use in the area. I call the police out a couple of times a week," she said.

Danny Watts expressed concern about the opening hours: "As residents we deserve some free time from that sort of noise."

Planning officer Andy Conroy said that "with a heavy heart" he advised members not to support the hybrid application with both detailed and outline elements, as the community hub element lacked details such as flood risk and a transport assessment.

Members agreed to support the plan in principle but called for clarification on matters including opening hours, lighting and traffic management.

Chippenham Borough Lands charity have used specialists Canvas to design the park and say Elkin Architects have worked hard to address local concerns about noise, flooding and behaviour to ensure the success of the project.

An environmentally-friendly wooden-clad design places the essential buildings above potential flood levels. Any noise from the skate park should be shielded by buildings and masked by existing levels of traffic noise from Avenue La Fleche. Closing the skate park at night, with security fencing and CCTV is intended to help prevent anti-social behaviour.

A wildlife trail and bird hides will be built on the fields and more than 1,000 willow trees will be planted to help prevent flooding.

Wiltshire Council is contributing £200,000 towards the cost. The Borough Lands say the response to last year’s consultation on the plans was hugely positive and offered a chance to bring a wide range of physical and creative activities to the people of Chippenham.