Skateboarder at Cardiff Bay Plaza. Credit: Mike Ridout. Central Square. Credit: Katherine Gray

Make Cardiff city centre more ‘skateable’ and don’t just send us to skateparks, say skateboarders

Six new skateparks are set to be built across the city in a bid to boost uptake of the Olympic sport

SKATEBOARDERS want to see parts of the city centre made more ‘skateable’ as part of Cardiff Council’s strategy for the sport.

Six new skateparks are set to be built across the city, including an Olympic-sized facility at the International Sports Village. 

The council’s ambitious new strategy is being developed in partnership with New Line Skateparks and Van de Zalm, who are widely regarded as two of the best skatepark planners in the business.

However, many skateboarders prefer using parts of the city centre to practice as opposed to skateparks.

Benches in the city centre with metal guards which prevent skating. Credit: Katherine Gray

“The thing that we want to see more of is integrating the actual city centre and public space with ‘skateable’ architecture,” said Mike Ridout who is manager at Cardiff’s only independent skateboarding shop, Cardiff Skateboarding Club.

There are already 11 council-run skateparks across Cardiff, although the quality of these has left them open to vandalism and damage.

Mr Ridout said: “They’re kind of fun but it’s fun because they’re crap, but those places, the upkeep of them is a nightmare. You’ve got to be really on to constantly to make sure they’re usable and still safe.”

The council parks, and privately-run facilities such as Spit & Sawdust and Rampworld, are are not to many skater’s tastes.

“It depends person to person, but for me I like just using flat ground, stuff on the streets,” said Will Edwards, 23, a student at Cardiff Metropolitan University who uses Central Square to practice.

“The cheapest option is just to refurbish concrete where possible. I don’t think you’ll ever really be able to skate in the street properly.”

Cardiff Bay Skate Park. Credit: Sam Whitfield.

The problem with skating in public streets is that it forces pedestrians to share the space with skaters.

Alexander Mallon, 18, who skates in Central Square, says: “We see skate-stoppers everywhere.”

As an example, Central Square is frequently used by skateboarders. It is surrounded by the BBC Wales building, Cardiff Central Train Station and shops and cafes. It has a lot of footfall. The area has also had trouble with antisocial behaviour in the past. Last December, a stabbing took place which left two teenage boys in hospital.

The council does want to incorporate ‘spot and dot’ facilities in parks, which are pieces of public architecture that can also be used for skateboarding.

The council consultation used Milton Keynes as one of the comparison cities for its plans, which, despite its small size, is widely considered the UK’s skating capital. This is because of the incorporation of public structures, like benches and ramps, which can also be used to skate on.

New Line and Van de Zalm normally use concrete and granite ledges when constructing their parks, materials which are way more hard-wearing and require less maintenance, said Mr Ridout.

The construction of the parks could be completed by 2032 and the council hopes this will boost the sport at a competitive level in Wales.