End of an era as plans to demolish Dundonald Ice Bowl gets green light

Plans to partially demolish the Dundonald International Ice Bowl and begin its redevelopment have officially been approved.

Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 12:47 pm

The Lisburn Castlereagh planning committee gave the decision the green light on April 12.

The Ice Bowl opened in 1986 and has around 600,000 visitors every year, with the original revamp pencilled for 2017 before the project was put on hold.

It will be the end of an era as the popular tourism site will be brought down, brick-by-brick, however the official time-scale for its demolition is still unknown.

It’s understood that the Ice Bowl will remain in operation to the public while its redevelopment is underway.

Plans for the site’s redevelopment includes a new Olympic size ice rink, ten pin bowling facility, children’s soft play area and a primary healthcare facility.

Meanwhile, the “state-of-the-art” and “energy saving building” will also be home to a new gymnasium, office space, food outlets and general support accommodation.

The long wait for redevelopment of the site off Old Dundonald Road has gone on for several years.

In 2014 a plan by the then Castlereagh Borough Council to give the complex a £40m upgrade was put on hold.

The council released first glimpses of its proposal to revamp the Ice Bowl two years ago in 2019.

The current site is the training ground for the Belfast Giants and had previously hosted some of Northern Ireland’s top figure skaters, including Jenna McCorkell, Tameron Drake, Neil Wilson, Carla Quinn and Edward Alton.

In a report, council officers said the new Ice Bowl would be ‘important to all of the people in Northern Ireland’ and would ‘promote excellence in leisure, health and well-being and tourism’.

The application had two objection letters. Those against the applications said the proposals would have an impact on businesses within the vicinity of the Ice Bowl, while another complained that the development would cause light, noise and dust pollution.

However, Alliance councillor Martin Gregg fully backed the proposal, saying: “This is what flagship design looks like. This is what sustainable development looks like and this is what engaging with the public looks like.

“The whole attention to detail around the new development means that everything fits. There has been some time put into this application and I whole heartedly support it.”

Sara Pearson, who is the lead designer and architect, said the facility would be an “iconic” facility for the whole of Northern Ireland.

She said: “Different elements of the building will have different lifespans but what we are aiming for is a building that has a longevity.

“We have designed a very dramatic building that will serve Dundonald and Northern Ireland for many years to come and will stand out. We hope that it’s going to stand the test of time.

“It’s nearly of an iconic form and it needs to be able to hold its position architecturally for a long time.”

Donal Rogan, Director of Service Transformation for LCCC, said the economic impacts of the new Ice Bowl would be “very significant” for the entire region.

He added: “The figure that we are using for the economic impact is £100m to the local economy.

“We are keen to sell that to the regional executive so that they understand that this is a regional facility.”

DUP Alderman David Drysdale echoed the calls of support, he added: “There has been various events throughout its history that makes this site stand out.

“This is a regional centre and there has been four generations of people in Northern Ireland that have used this site throughout its history.

“It’s great to see this moving on to the next phase and if we do this right then it should pay for itself.”

The application received cross-party support and was approved unanimously by all members.

Shaun Keenan , Local Democracy Reporting Service