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New climbing centre and skatepark in Chippenham

A brand-new climbing centre has opened in Chippenham, built by Chippenham Borough Lands Charity (CBLC) and run by The Climbing Academy (TCA), with funding from Wiltshire Council and Sports England.

Published 8 April 2022

A brand-new climbing centre has opened in Chippenham, built by Chippenham Borough Lands Charity (CBLC) and run by The Climbing Academy (TCA). This purpose-built centre offers bouldering, roped climbing, a café and a free skatepark overlooking Westmead playing field, creating jobs for local people, a new community hub and opportunities for personal development and recreation.
There will be a chance to celebrate the opening of The Arc between 12-3pm on Saturday 9th April. The climbing centre will be open as usual, but visitors will be able to watch climbing demonstrations on the outside climbing wall and professional skateboarders will also be visiting to put on a demonstration, showcasing what can be done within the new skatepark facility which adjoins the climbing centre.

The skatepark was designed and built by Bristol Skatepark design specialists, CANVAS. The skatepark has been a long-awaited new facility for Chippenham and is already being enjoyed by local skaters of all ages and abilities. The CANVAS team will be hosting a range of activities around the skatepark on the 9th, including demonstrations, free sessions, and competitions.

The competitions will be split up into different categories depending on those in attendance on the day. These will be carried out in an informal jam format to ensure that the day is inclusive to all ages and abilities. There will be photo and video opportunities on the day to show off your skills in the bowl. Prizes awarded to those who are doing impressive tricks, having the most fun, showing the most progression.

Legendary British climber, Kenton Cool, will also be attending the launch event. He has successfully climbed Mount Everest fifteen times and was the first man to climb Nuptse, Everest and Lhotse in a climbing season.  A great opportunity to see and meet one of Britain's most high-profile and celebrated climbers.

The Arc is one of the first climbing centres in the UK to be built from the ground-up, rather than adapted from existing space. Inspiration for the design was taken from world class climbing centres like the famous Kletterzentrum in Innsbruck.

This is the first time that TCA has worked in partnership with another organisation to create a climbing centre. Aligning TCA's skills and expertise with the objectives of CBLC has been an exciting and fruitful partnership that is already paying dividends to the citizens of Chippenham and surrounding areas who have been making use of its facilities.

Chippenham Borough Lands Charity is a grant giving organisation that supports local residents in welfare, education, arts and community projects. The Arc facility has been funded by the charity with support of a £100,000 grant from Sports England towards the climbing centre and a £200,000 grant from Wiltshire Council towards the skatepark.

Cllr Phil Alford, Cabinet Member for Strategic Assets, said: This project has been in development for many years and has received great support from our communities and the Chippenham Area Board. It's fantastic to see the end result and we are pleased to have been able to support the project with our contribution of £200,000 towards the skatepark. This new hub of activities is a valuable addition to the town, and provides many opportunities for our communities and visitors to Wiltshire.

CBLC CEO Phil Tansley, said: It's great to see The Arc finally open with people enjoying our new, fantastic facility for Chippenham. We look forward to celebrating its official launch on the 9th April. It's taken six years of hard work to get to this point. Working closely with a wide range of local people, local businesses and partner organisations has produced an amazing community space that we hope will be enjoyed by the people of Chippenham for years to come.

Climbing is a welcoming sport that is accessible to all shapes, sizes and ages. You can boulder from any age and over 70s climb for free at all TCA centres. The centre is fully accessible with free on-site parking for disabled customers. The sport, which featured in the recent Summer Olympics for the first time, has proven benefits to both physical and mental health. Providing active movement, from energetic overhangs at height to balanced slab traverses only centimetres off a mat. It helps participants to improve confidence and focus.

The Arc is a safe and supportive space for families, individuals and youth or community groups. You can start bouldering anytime without doing a course, but the centre offers taster sessions and beginners roped courses for newcomers, as well as skills coaching.

TCA opened its first centre in Bristol in 2008. The Arc is TCA's 3rd centre in the south west of England and 5th centre in total, with 2 in Glasgow.

TCA CEO Rich Emerson said: When TCA heard about the climbing wall being built in Chippenham we really wanted to be involved. The opportunity to bring climbing to the town in a state-of-the-art building was just too good to be missed. The partnership with CBLC has been really positive and we are excited to show you around the centre on 9 April.

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