A COUPLE’S dream of creating a new place for young South Tynesiders to play has moved a step closer to becoming a reality.
For two years, Adam and Helen McKinnon have been drawing up plans to turn the disused Visage factory on the Simonside Industrial Estate in South Shields into a skateboard park and soft-play area.
Now, work has started on creating ramps and grinds for skateboarders and BMX riders at the building, in Shaftesbury Avenue, and equipment for a children’s play area is also being installed.
The Hebburn couple, parents to son Ryan and daughter Libby, say they hope to have their twofold venture, Ride It Skate Park and Monkey Mayhem Soft Play, open by the end of May.
Mrs McKinnon said: “We had been looking for a project for when Adam leaves the army.
“Our son Ryan was heavily into BMX riding, and for years, we have sat out in the cold on tracksides watching him. We found a lot of them were quite dark and cold.
“What we aim to do is create somewhere bright and welcoming and to be part of the community.”
The course aims to be the biggest in the North East, with a range of ramps and grinds, covering 20,000sq feet, for skateboarders and BMX bikers to try out their tricks and skills on.
The couple also hope to hold competitions, as well as to take those who sign up as members to other skateboard venues to compete.
There will be a viewing area for parents and an on-site shop run by Gateshead’s Reign 55 bike and skateboard store.
Bikes will be provided for people to use.
As part of the soft-play area, there will be a racetrack and cafe. There is also space in the building which the couple hope to be able to turn into offices for those looking to start their own businesses.
Mr McKinnon added: “It has been really hard work, with issues over planning applications to change the use of the building, but we have persevered.
“We want to make the place an affordable place, and all we can do is keep moving forward.
“There is nothing like this in the area where there will be so much under one roof, and we would love to have people’s feedback on what they would like to see us incorporate into the venue in future.”