By Kirstie Topp – Local Democracy Reporter
Ellon Wheel Park Group put together its bid for the lower Gordon Park earlier this year.
The development will create a 650-yard-long, all-in-one park created for skateboarders, mountain bikers, cyclists and BMX riders.
Councillors at the Formartine area committee agreed to lease the ground for just £1 a month for the next 25 years. However, the Ellon group must have secured all of it’s funding before they can begin building the wheeled sports hub.
Group chairman Colin Allanach attended the meeting to argue the case for the new facility.
Other towns and cities have skateparks and pump tracks, some even have circuits, but none have all three in a dedicated area.
This is what makes Ellon’s proposed park so unique and a great selling point for our town and the Formartine area.
There have been previous attempts to build skateparks and cycling facilities in Ellon which have fallen through for various reasons.
This project is different in that major funds are available through SportScotland to build good quality facilities which can be designed for the users in mind and be of a quality that will last for many years.
This is an opportunity that won’t come up again for a long time and we need to grasp it.Group chairman Colin Allanach
Councillor Isobel Davidson confessed she has been a “long-time supporter” of plans for a skatepark in Ellon. But she had hoped that the facility could be built in another location. She said
We are certainly in the stage now that we need new facilities in Ellon and we need things for young people to do.
There needs to be a wider variety of facilities in the area for people of all ages and I know that there is quite a bit of enthusiasm for this.
This has been delayed in one way or another for many years and I don’t want to delay it any longer.
Fellow councillor Louise McAllister said the new wheel park would be welcomed by residents.
We are in the middle of this cost of living crisis, we are recovering from Covid and we have families and young people who are really desperate for a facility that is free to use, open and inclusive.
That is something that I think we should embrace and be very proud of.
However, councillors Gillian Owen and John Crawley said they were still undecided about the proposal.
Mrs Owen said
On the one hand there’s no question of the need for this type of venture but is Gordon Park the best place?
I wonder what will our decision mean for other parks in and around Aberdeenshire because maybe we could be setting a precedent.
Meanwhile, Mr Crawley said the new facility would help to attract tourists to the town but he still had reservations about toilet access and parking.
Mid-Formartine councillor Jenny Nicol thought the plan was “inspiring” and could help youngsters with their wellbeing. She said
I don’t believe we can underestimate the importance for young people to have an accessible space, not just to exercise, but a place to meet with friends in a social setting and to have a place to be in our communities.
Ms Nicol also said the new facility could allow the wheel park group to engage with local schools in the future and the project could “bring the community together”
Councillor Anne Stirling noted that there needed to be forward planning to ensure everyone knew what would happen to the site after the 25-year lease is up.
Councillor Davidson moved a motion to approve the asset transfer and it was unanimously agreed by the committee.
The group’s application for planning permission is currently awaiting determination.
Members are hoping to open the Ellon Wheel Park in 2023 to tie in with Glasgow hosting the Cycling World Championships.
The proposal has received support from Gold medal-winning Paralympian Neil Fachie and Olympic silver medalist Neah Evans.
Neah said she “wholeheartedly” supported the plan.
Meanwhile, Neil said the wheel park was a “huge opportunity to really develop cycling in the north-east” and added it was a “win-win for everyone concerned”.