Plans submitted for £30 million regional ice centre in Lee Valley
- Credit: Archant
London’s first ever Olympic-sized twin-pad venue set to boost sports and leisure opportunities for communities across the region.
Plans for an all-new ice sports venue in East London, which would accommodate more than half a million visits a year and increase community participation in physical activity, have been submitted to Waltham Forest Council.
The new venue would replace the popular current single-pad Lee Valley Ice Centre which, after 34 years of use, is nearing the end of its operational life and struggling to meet demand. Ice skating in east London will be lost unless the venue is replaced.
If the plans submitted by Lee Valley Regional Park Authority (LVRPA) are approved, the new Lee Valley Ice Centre - on the site of the current centre on Lea Bridge Road, Leyton - will become the first twin-pad venue in the south of England, with two Olympic size ice rinks, a new gym and exercise studio open to everyone.
In addition to accommodating a range of sports for all ages and abilities, from ice skating to ice hockey to curling, visitors would also be able to enjoy the venue's new cafés and community spaces.
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The new centre has been sensitively designed by FaulknerBrowns Architects to improve, enhance and create a landscape that is attractive to both visitors to the centre and those visiting the surrounding parkland.
The designs also have sustainability at the heart with a significant amount of native planting and innovative energy, construction and water re-use methods.
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The cost of physical inactivity in the London Boroughs of Waltham Forest and Hackney is £107 million each year.
Socio-economic research commissioned by LVRPA shows that the twin-pad centre would produce an estimated annual health benefit of at least £16.2 million, due to more people being physically active at the centre and improved social cohesion with all ages from all communities enjoying the new venue.
It would also help reduce crime and anti-social behaviour across the local boroughs through the provision of additional ice activities and community programmes for young people, which lessen social exclusion and create a safe space for the whole community.
The current Lee Valley Ice Centre is one of the most popular ice-skating venues in the UK.
It is open seven days a week, for up to 19 hours a day, and accommodates around 279,000 visits a year from across London and the wider region.
Around a third of visitors are from Waltham Forest and Hackney.
Almost a third of skaters at the current Lee Valley Ice Centre are from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic background, and women and girls make up around 60% of visitors - groups which are often underrepresented in sport and physical activity.
The proposed new centre with its two ice rinks would provide twice the ice for communities to participate in sport, with its position as the first twin-pad in London also attracting regional and national audiences, along with a busy regional, national and international event programme.
Lee Valley Regional Park Authority chief executive Shaun Dawson said: "We've taken our time to listen to communities and ensure that the feedback they have given us has been incorporated into the designs.
"This scheme would create a new Lee Valley Ice Centre that would be somewhere the whole community feels welcome.
"It is vital that this scheme is given the green light, otherwise this wonderful community activity will be lost for good.
"We are confident we have demonstrated that the new centre will not only provide an exciting place for young people to get involved in sport but will also enhance the physical and mental health of people of all ages, locally and from across the region.
"The improved landscape will better open up the green space around the centre for everyone to enjoy."
The plans have received overwhelming support from the local community. There were a total of 1,360 responses to the consultation over the summer in 2019 and over 80% of responses supported plans for the all-new ice centre, which include:
Two Olympic-sized ice rinks, doubling capacity to 557,000 visits per year and offering skating, ice dance, ice hockey, curling and speed skating;
Improved facilities including a new gym, exercise studio, a public café acting as a setting-off point for walkers, runners and cyclists, and community spaces open to everyone;
Capacity for 800 spectators and an events programme;
Transformed surrounding landscape and significant new native planting, increasing wildlife and opening up access to the surrounding green spaces;
A high quality, attractive and sustainably designed building which would be a huge improvement to the current centre, with innovative use of construction, energy and water methods;
Less car parking spaces and increased bicycle parking (compared to the current venue) to encourage sustainable travel and reduce traffic pollution.
Should the application be approved, LVRPA aims to begin construction mid-2021.
17-year-old Carlos, who has been skating at the centre since he was three years old, said:"Lee Valley Ice Centre has been a massive part of my life for the past 14 years. Whether it's been skating or volunteering, I've always felt part of the community at the centre.
"It's also important for the community - there are a lot of clubs that use the ice centre. It has given me a platform to meet many like-minded people and has given me confidence and has allowed me to keep fit and physically healthy. I don't know what I would do without it."
Eddie Joseph, Coach at Lee Valley Lions Junior Ice Hockey Club, said: "Working with young people at the centre is amazing, it's great to see young people from aged 4 up to 18 getting active and really committing to a sport. We've had some great success and I've seen first-hand the impact that this can have on the lives of young people.
"The planned new ice centre will allow clubs like us to reach even more people in the local area, which can only be seen as a good thing."
To show their support for the new Lee Valley Ice Centre, members of the public can respond to the formal consultation being run by the London Borough of Waltham Forest by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, quoting #194162 to provide your feedback.
Find out more about the plans at www.icecentreredevelopment.com, or get in touch with the consultation team on LVIC@communitycomms.co.uk or 0800 093 1716.