Isle of Wight ice rink plans win council approval

  • Published
Artist's impression of the new centreImage source, SILC
Image caption,
A council report had recommended the £3m rink plan should be rejected, partly because of traffic and waste water issues

Plans to build an ice rink on the Isle of Wight to replace one that closed in 2016 have been approved.

The new £3m centre, next to Smallbrook Stadium, would also include indoor sports courts and a climbing wall.

However, Isle of Wight Council said the approval could not be formalised until it had consulted ministers, because of a challenge from Sport England.

A council report had recommended that the scheme be rejected, due to traffic, amenity and waste water issues.

The applicant, Dr Zyrieda Denning, said she hoped to open the site by June.

Image source, Wayne Whittle
Image caption,
Campaigners protested against the closure of the island's previous ice rink in 2016

The island's ice hockey and senior synchro-skating teams suspended operations after the previous rink, Ryde Arena, was shut due to unpaid rent.

Campaigners and members of the island's youth synchro-skating teams cheered in the public gallery when councillors voted on Tuesday to ignore the report recommending the project's rejection.

Image source, Bison TV
Image caption,
The closure caused the island's ice hockey team, Wightlink Raiders, to suspend operations

Councillor Michael Lilley told the meeting at County Hall: "I am not going to be responsible for killing the dream of our young people."

Another planning committee member, Vanessa Churchman, said the sports centre was "an investment in our youth".

Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely tweeted: "This is great news. I will now work with [the council] to help overcome the objections from Sport England."

The public body previously said the scheme would result in the "significant loss" of a playing field. It has been approached by the BBC for comment.

Image caption,
Sport England said the development would cause the "significant loss" of a playing field

The council said it would now open talks with the government.

Ryde Arena Community Action Group, which has campaigned for a rink, tweeted: "It is a long road ahead but we are now one step closer."

However, Island Speedway, which operates at Smallbrook Stadium, said it could incur "unsustainable" costs from traffic management work and disruption to an annual scooter rally.

Spokesman Martin Widman said: "We believe a facility of this size is in the wrong place [and] reduces the number of usable sports fields on the island."

Dr Denning, whose daughter travels to the mainland for her tennis training, said she would invest £1m of her own money in the scheme, and fundraise for the remaining £2m.

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