Fears that replacement for Lee Valley Ice Centre will encroach on marshes, reports by James Cracknell
Long-awaited plans for a new £30million ice rink in Leyton have been revealed – which would become the largest in south-east England.
Lee Valley Regional Park Authority (LVRPA) wants to double the size of the existing 34-year-old Lee Valley Ice Centre in Lea Bridge Road where it says activities such as ice hockey and figure skating have long waiting lists because of the high demand. It is currently used by 279,000 people per year.
The new ice centre would have an Olympic-sized twin rink and also include a gym, dance studio, café and new community spaces. It would operate in an “entirely new way” according to LVRPA, acting as a “gateway to Leyton Marsh” and other areas of Lee Valley Regional Park.
Concerns remain from residents that the new ice rink will threaten protected green space by increasing the current footprint of Lee Valley Ice Centre. Save Lea Marshes campaigner Abi Woodman said: “We are deeply concerned LVRPA will break any promises to mitigate the effects of the development on the marshes. The proposed ice rink will take a large bite out of Leyton Marsh.”
LVRPA has denied this and says that, under its plans, areas currently devoid of ecological value will be boosted “with significant native planting” to help wildlife. A spokesperson said: “The [new] building would move a bit further north but still maintain its separation from Leyton Marsh and will remain within the overall current Lee Valley Ice Centre site.”
A public consultation on LVRPA’s plans has now been launched and will remain open until Sunday 1st September. Chief executive Shaun Dawson said: “We know how vital ice sport and the opportunity for leisure and physical activity are in this part of London. Lee Valley Ice Centre is hugely popular, open up to 19 hours a day, seven days a week – but recent operational problems have shown that it’s reaching the end of its working life and if it’s not replaced, it will be lost.
“We’re proposing a fantastic new ice centre which would also act as a gateway to the surrounding open space. It would be the only twin Olympic-sized venue in south-east England and would enable many more people to get active on the ice, as well as use the gym, dance studios, café and community spaces. We believe these opportunities would benefit people from the local community, across the capital and from the wider region.
“We now want people to have their say, so we can create a centre that everyone can be proud of.”
Detailed plans for the new ice rink will go on display at Lee Valley Ice Centre on Monday 15th July.