Lee Valley Regional Park Authority Board gives final approvals: Construction work due to start this summer
29 April 2021
Our Board has today given approval for work to start on the transformation of Lee Valley Ice Centre into a new world class venue. They agreed a funding package which is now being sent to Government for its approval – something required by the Act of Parliament which governs the Park Authority. Our Board’s decision means that the new venue which will be built in one phase and will open around a year earlier than we had first planned.
Designed by award-winning FaulknerBrowns Architects, the £30m regional centre will be the only venue of its kind in the south-east of England, and one of only three Olympic-sized twin rinks in the UK.
It will be built on the site of the current venue in Lea Bridge Road, Leyton and will have two Olympic sized rinks side by side – both larger than the rink at the current centre which will hugely increase our capacity. It will also have:
The new development will create a highly sustainable centre. It will be accompanied by significant improvements to the environment around the centre through new tree planting, some green roofs, reedbeds, native meadows and native shrub planting. The enhancements will result in a 30% increase in biodiversity.
The current venue, in a normal year, attracts 279,000 visitors. The new Lee Valley Ice Centre is expected to attract 500,000 users annually, bring £1.5m of extra investment to the area, and around 45 jobs.
Because of Government Coronavirus restrictions, Lee Valley Ice Centre is currently closed except to under 18s who are being coached and to clubs. This will, subject to the Government’s lockdown roadmap, hopefully expand to over 18s who are being coached on 17 May. The current centre will then close completely on 27 June.
We hope the new venue will become a place where people will come not only to skate, but to socialise and relax, and will be a meeting point for walkers, runners, cyclists and families using the surrounding green space.
Construction will last around 15 months, and we hope to open the new centre in October 2022.
We’ve already been in touch with coaches and clubs based at Lee Valley Ice Centre and are working with them to put in place a package of support to help them carry on with their training during the 15 month construction period.
Key planning documents
An update on habitat works taking place at Lee Valley Ice Centre
Following the formal granting of planning permission, we commenced some vegetation removal on Wednesday 25 November and completed the works on Tuesday 2 December.
It was scheduled at this time of year to avoid clearance works being undertaken in the 2021 bird nesting season and to avoid the peak period for Hedgehog hibernation.
Sensitive working methodologies were applied to minimise the risk of impacting wildlife using the site at the time of clearance.
On the first day on site, an Ecologist gave a toolbox talk to the contractor. During the talk they outlined the responsibilities of both the Ecologist and the contractor and discussed the species that may be encountered and how they are protected.
The trees (Cockspur Thorn, Small-leaved Lime and Holm Oak) in the car park and the Poplar to the rear of the existing building had already been assessed for potential for protected species and following an additional check at commencement of works, the contractor was able to remove these without a watching brief by the Ecologist.
The two Crack Willow to the east of the building were felled with close supervision by the Ecologist. One of these was identified as having limited suitability for roosting bats and a precautionary approach to the felling was implemented. This required section felling of limbs and lowering of sections with potential roost features gently to the ground for inspection by the Ecologist before work proceeded. No bats or evidence of a roost were identified.
The bramble was first searched in sections by the Ecologist immediately prior to the works. This was done by sight, using a torch to assist. Thermal imaging equipment was also used where appropriate. As sections were cut away the Ecologist would halt work to check the next section.
Mechanised hand tools were used, these enable the contractor to be very precise about where they are cutting. Procedures were in place for dealing with any species found during the works however no mammals, reptiles or amphibians were seen during the duration of the works.
The arisings were dealt with in different ways; some brash was reserved for habitat piles, larger logs for loggeries and excess material chipped for use on site for improving pathways and for improving existing features for reptiles. Some bramble was also retained to cover the log piles to discourage people removing for firewood.
Four brash piles and two Hedgehog nesting boxes have been installed on site in the retained woodland to the east of the existing building, an invertebrate loggery will also be installed as soon as possible. There are also volunteer tasks planned to install habitat piles in the Blackthorn thickets along the eastern boundary of Leyton Marsh and our Rangers will be installing a habitat feature along the boundary of the Oxbow Island.
The stumps in the car park and the tree to the rear of the building, set in the short mown grass were ground out. No stumps in the scrub area will be ground at this time, if this is required it will take place to from April – September to avoid disturbance to any creature hibernating at the base.
We are now looking at the specification for managing this area until such a time that it is handed over to the main contractor. It is likely that our GM contractor will be employed to keep the vegetation low. This methodology will be agreed with the Ecologist in advance.
A couple of surveys are planned on site including site mapping and soil investigation over the next couple of weeks. The mapping is non-invasive and the soil investigations require a probe to be inserted into the soil – no digging takes place and no open pits are created.
We'll keep you updated on any further habitat works throughout this project. In the meantime, if you have any questions please contact us on our general enquiries lines.