Ice plans get frosty reception

The former TVR factory on Bristol Avenue in Bispham.
The former TVR factory on Bristol Avenue in Bispham.
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PROPOSALS to build a new skating arena in Blackpool look set to be frozen out.

Planners are being recommended to turn down a bid to convert part of the former TVR factory on Bristol Avenue, Bispham, into two ice rinks – one of which has been earmarked for competitive ice hockey.

A report to councillors says the TVR site – which closed in 2006 with the loss of around 250 jobs – should be protected for future industrial use, while leisure uses should be concentrated within the resort’s core area.

The applicant hopes to construct a 52 metre by 26 metre main rink which would be big enough to hold league hockey matches, while there would also be a smaller rink measuring 14 metres by 20 metres.

Other facilities would include a 200-capacity viewing area, a cafe, skate shop and dance studios.

If it went ahead, the facility would create 30 jobs.

It would be the third skating arena on the Fylde coast, along with rinks at Blackpool Pleasure Beach and the Sub Zero Ice Arena which opened in Cleveleys in 2011.

Since the Bispham plans were first revealed last September, there have been 159 letters of support and 47 letters of objection.

But a report to Blackpool Council’s planning committee, which is due to consider the application when it meets on Monday, says the “proposed development would introduce an inappropriate use into an area allocated for industrial and related business uses.”

It adds the proposal would also “introduce a significant tourism/leisure attraction outside the resort core and town centre” and if approved this would “undermine the council’s regeneration objectives for the resort.”

The developer says there is no demand for industrial use on the site.

Preston-based architects Cassidy and Ashton, which is acting on behalf of the applicant A.Thompson, says the applicant has been in discussion with several ice hockey teams who have agreed to use the rink regularly if planning approval is granted.

Ingthorpe ward councillor Coun Kath Rowson said she would be disappointed if the scheme was refused.

She said: “This would be an excellent amenity for residents in the north of Blackpool, as well as providing much-needed jobs.

“My only concern is that ample parking is provided.

“But the feedback I have had is that most people are in favour of it.”

Coun Tony Williams, leader of the Conservative group on Blackpool Council, said he would be urging the three Conservative members of the planning committee to vote in favour of the application getting permission.

He said: “I think it is a perfect place for an ice rink and it would be employing 30 local people.”

There are two gyms on the TVR site which are not affected by the scheme.

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