Olympic ice rink venue in East London passes first planning hurdle

Proposed plans for the new twin ice rink at Lee Valley Ice Centre (Pic: FaulkerBrowns)

Proposed plans for the new twin ice rink at Lee Valley Ice Centre (Pic: FaulkerBrowns) - Credit: Archant

The London Borough of Waltham Forest has given in principle approval to plans for London’s first ever Olympic-sized twin-pad venue and plans will now be considered by the Mayor of London.

Plans have been approved for an all-new ice venue in East London, which would offer world class sports facilities and unlock opportunities for the community to engage in a wide range of activities.

The decision made on Tuesday by Waltham Forest’s Planning Committee comes after a consultation found huge appetite among the community and other interest groups for a new Lee Valley Ice Centre to be built on the site of the current single pad venue in Lea Bridge Road, Leyton.

The project is defined as a strategic planning application and so is now being referred to the Mayor of London for consideration.

The stunning new centre, designed by the award winning practice FaulknerBrowns Architects would be highly sustainable and would see environmental improvements which would transform the area with significant native planting and landscape enhancements which would result in a significant biodiversity net gain of over 35%.

The venue owners, Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, would also fund a ten-year £250,000 community programme to open up access to the new venue for groups and schools across Waltham Forest and Hackney benefitting thousands of people every year.

The Authority has designed the new ice centre as a community hub which would become a meeting point for walkers, runners, cyclists and families enjoying the nearby green space. Participation is at the heart of the scheme which would have two Olympic sized rinks side by side, a cafe, gym, exercise studios and community spaces which would be open to everyone.

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More than half a million visits per year are expected at the new venue – double those at the current Lee Valley Ice Centre.

Lee Valley Regional Park Authority chief executive Shaun Dawson said: “We’re absolutely thrilled that Waltham Forest Council has approved our plans for the new Lee Valley Ice Centre. We now look forward to a decision from the Mayor of London. The current centre has been serving the community for the last 36 years, providing a safe space for young people from local communities to meet, socialise and stay active - but is nearing the end of its operational life and can’t meet demand.

“We want the new Lee Valley Ice Centre to reach all communities including those less likely to participate in physical activity. The new ice centre would offer more than just ice rinks, with a range of activities and facilities open to all. We’re delighted that the benefits that this project would bring are recognised by the Committee.”

Eddie Joseph, Coach at Lee Valley Lions Junior Ice Hockey Club who spoke in support of the plans at the planning committee meeting, said: “It’s great to know that the future of the ice centre is close to being secured. I’ve seen first-hand the impact that the centre has on the lives of young people aged from four right through to 18. I am excited about the plans for the new ice centre which will allow clubs like ours to reach even more people in the local community.”

More than half of skaters at the current Lee Valley Ice Centre are under 16. Almost a third of skaters are from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic background, and women and girls make up around 60% of visitors – two groups statistically less likely to participate in sport.

As the first twin-pad in London, it would attract regional and national audiences, and have a busy regional, national and international event programme.