Seafront residents and dog walkers want to keep a wild space that would be concreted over under regeneration plans.
The former pitch and putt course on Hove seafront is currently earmarked for a BMX pump track, skate park and roller rink as part of Brighton and Hove City Council’s £10 million Kingsway to the sea regeneration project.
But people who use the area say dog walkers and families are using the area constantly.
In contrast, the existing skate park in nearby Hove Lagoon is generally used in the afternoons and evenings once teenagers are home from school.
The petition titled Rethink the Skateboard and Bike Pump Park at Hove Lagoon on Brighton and Hove City Council website has attracted 65 signatures since it launched on Thursday, 26 May.
It says the council describe the area as underused when it is “enormously well used” by dog walkers, exercise groups and young and old gathering for picnics or to enjoy the open space.
During half term week, families were seen playing ball games on the grass area, which petitioners fear would be lost once it is covered in concrete for a skate park and pump track.
Petitioner Liz Cook said: “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a big green space left exactly as it is.
“It’s cheap for the council. They could just mow it. We’ve kept track of how everyone is using it. It’s well used and well-loved. Leave it be.”
Stephen Ellis, director of Wellbeck Court in Kingsway, Hove, said many people live in flats along the seafront who want to use outside space because they do not have a garden.
He said: “Particularly in lockdown, this was a haven for people who didn’t have their own open space.
“It’s developed from that. People were coming over and making the best use of it.”
Mr Ellis said during initial consultations with residents, the council did not mention moving the skate park. The site was just a pump track.
Dog walker Mark Phillips said there are few open spaces in the area apart from Wish Park, which is usually too busy to let pets run around.
He said: “I was there the other day, there were six football matches going on, two kids clubs, so you couldn’t let the dogs run around.
“On average, every day before 11am, there are at least 30 dog walkers using this area. Before 11am not one soul is using the skate park.
“On a wet weekend, the skate park is empty, but the dog walkers use it all weather, as do the exercise classes.”
The petitioners have support from Wish ward Conservative councillors Robert Nemeth and Garry Peltzer Dunn.
Councillor Nemeth: “After visiting residents to hear concerns and subsequently raising these concerns with the council, councillor Garry Peltzer Dunn and I were most surprised to find a pump track, skate park and flat roller-skating area in the designs.
“We have been successful so far in ensuring that one of the disused pitch and putt lawns becomes a new park.
“As an alternative to the council’s proposal, we have suggested that the skate park stays where it is in the Lagoon, and the roller-skating area forms a centre-piece to the park.
“We are awaiting updated designs now.”
A council spokesperson said the council has consulted with residents and the wider community through the design and planning process for the Kingsway to the Sea Project, which provides new leisure facilities and park areas along Hove seafront.
Two drop-in sessions were attended by more than 500 people on 20 and 21 May, following on from a consultation held in September 2021.
The project has received feedback from the West Hove Seafront Action Group, comprising of residents, representatives from businesses in the area, clubs and voluntary organisations.
The council spokesperson said: “We recognise that there is a wide variety of views on the detail of what new facilities might be put in place.
“An update report on the project will go to our Policy and Resources Committee in July.
“Following that, a planning application will be submitted at the end of the summer.
“We are continuing to engage with local groups, and there will be an opportunity for further consultation as part of the planning process.”
A survey about the Kingsway to the Sea project is open until 10 June on the council’s website.
The petition is also on the council’s website and is open until 15 June.
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