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  • Writer's pictureWorld Half Full

Former supermarket becomes indoor skatepark


A disused Sainsbury’s supermarket in Portsmouth, England, has been transformed into an indoor skatepark. It’s open to skaters, BMXers, scooter riders and rollerbladers of all ages. The skatepark includes ramps, rails and ledges and enough variations to hold competitions alongside day-to-day use. A separate flat space is set aside for skaters.

The skatepark’s founder, Jacob Skinner, says a supermarket was a “skateboarder’s dream”.

“The floor is made for trolleys so it’s smooth and grippy — it really suits boarders. In more deprived areas like this, kids excel at boarding; they see it as an escape,” he notes. “We’ve got loads of other exciting plans for how we’re going to use this community space, where people of all ages and abilities can come to learn, have fun and be creative.

“With skateboarding in the United Kingdom, it rains a lot. So our main focus was to build something you can skate all year round with a roof. We started this with just an idea. The council agreed. We’ve got the lease to this building and a dream and we’ve got a lot of support from a lot of people in the city,” he adds.

Skinner says skateboarding helped him as a youngster. “For me, skateboarding was a way of dealing with my problems when I was younger. And I wanted other people to be able to deal with theirs in the same way. And I think there’s been a secondary boom in a lot of world sports since lockdown because people had extra time on their hands and realised it was a way to be outside and doing something constructive,” he says. “I want to give others the opportunity to use it in a positive way. We are really passionate about changing the view of skateboarding in the community. It’s also so important to remember that you are never too old to skate. We want to bring the community together through this venue and encourage people of all ages to get involved.”

In an effort to include the whole community, sessions such as the “silver surfers” and “teeny boppers” will allow those of all ages to join in.

Local councillor, Ben Dowling, who’s the city’s cabinet member for culture, leisure and economic development, says it was a “much-needed facility in an area of the city centre that has faced challenges”.

“We want our city centre to evolve with the times and have a fresh buzz about it, offering inclusive and engaging things to do and see and providing social value,” he adds.

The skatepark, located in the city centre, will also help “unlock long-term regeneration opportunities”.

Another councillor, Steve Pitt, says, “It’s fantastic to see this empty building transformed for the community. The skatepark gives a real opportunity for people to come together and explore a new passion. Congratulations to the team behind it, it’s a big achievement. We know this area has huge potential to help transform the city centre and using empty spaces like this is a great way to start to unlock new community facilities and business opportunities while we develop long-term regeneration plans.”

TOP Lucy Adams skating in the skate park


ABOVE TOP Jacob Skinner, partner Jenna Boyson and bub at the skatepark


ABOVE BOTTOM Ramps, rail and ledges at the skate park

PHOTO ITV Meridian


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