Scheme to give sporting chance at paint factory

Plans are underway to transform a paint factory on Little London road into an indoor skate park. Jan Hulley and daughter, Amy Cooper, with her children, Samuel, 11, Charlotte, nine and Henry, three
Plans are underway to transform a paint factory on Little London road into an indoor skate park. Jan Hulley and daughter, Amy Cooper, with her children, Samuel, 11, Charlotte, nine and Henry, three

A FORMER paint warehouse and factory could soon be given a new splash of life as an extreme sports centre.

Plans have been drawn up to turn the old RJ Stokes buildings in Little London Road into an indoor park for skateboarding, BMX, scootering and in-line skating.

Sheffield businesswoman Amy Cooper and her mother, Jan Hulley, are aiming to create a place that will not only allow young people to pursue the activities safely but will also allow them to feel part of a community, motivating each other and being given a helping hand by outside organisations.

They plan to work at On Board alongside bodies such as Sheffield College, the NHS and the police.

Amy, who lives in Dore and owned a private nursery at Whirlow for 11 years, said: “It is something we are both passionate about and it is something we feel will make a real difference to the local youth and people who will travel to it.”

They believe there is a “huge” demand among young people in Sheffield for the type of sports that would be accommodated in the proposed development in Little London Road, between London Road and Abbeydale Road. It would also include a shop and cafe.

Some young enthusiasts currently travel as far as Leeds.

“We really need something for teenage children and above, somewhere they can call their own, where they are safe and where they can enjoy their sport, somewhere to hang out and enjoy each other’s company,” said Amy, whose own children, Samuel, aged 11, Charlotte, nine, and Harry, three, gave her the idea.

She has been carrying out market research with her mother, who also lives in Dore, and whose background is in adult education.

Caleb Swift has helped to design the skate park through his own expertise and knowledge as a pro skateboarder and youth worker.

In their submission to the council for planning permission, Amy and Jan say they want to combine their passion for supporting sport and youth, creating a centre where young people can improve their skills, have the opportunity to motivate and mentor others and generate a community spirit.

They hope the project will do its bit towards reducing anti-social behaviour.

Initial costs are estimated at around £75,000, kept down by the involvement of family and friends. Most of the money would come privately but grants could be secured from Sport England and the NHS on the basis of the anticipated wider community benefits.

Some funds would come from sponsorship and income from the shop and cafe.

“We have got an investor who is really interested and who wants to make a difference to the community and support the development of young people,” said Amy, who continues to work three days a week at Parkhead Cottage Nursery, which she sold last February.

If council permission is granted, a provisional opening date has been set for Easter.