Construction work has begun on the new landmark Lee Valley Ice Centre in east London.
Local politicians and other stakeholders gathered at the site for the ground-breaking for the new community hub, which is due to open in October 2022.
The event saw the unveiling of hoardings with a new community artwork designed by local schoolchildren and the start of the demolition of the current venue, which couldn’t meet growing demand and had reached the end of its operational life after 37 years.
The new £30m regional centre is being built and funded by Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, responsible for the 26 mile long, 10,000 acre Lee Valley Regional Park which attracted more than 10m visits last year.
It is being constructed on the site of the old venue in Lea Bridge Road, Leyton and will be one of only three Olympic-sized twin rinks in the UK and the only venue of its kind in the southeast.
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Both rinks will be larger than the one in the original venue doubling capacity to attract over 500,000 people a year.
The new Lee Valley Ice Centre will include a café, gym, exercise studios and community spaces which will be open to everyone.
It will be accompanied by landscape and ecology improvements including new wetland habitats.
The venue will provide a place for people to socialise and relax and be a meeting point for visitors to the award winning nearby green space.
Shaun Dawson, Chief Executive of Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, said: “Starting work on this stunning, transformational investment is a declaration of Lee Valley Regional Park Authority’s long-term commitment to communities in east London and across the region.
“Helping people get fit, stay healthy, enjoy nature and have fun is what we do across the 26-mile-long Lee Valley Regional Park – after the past year, this is more important than ever.
“We know how much the old venue was valued by people near and far, and the new one will have an expanded range of programmes for schools, community organisations, and under-represented groups – all of which will aid community cohesion plus physical and mental wellbeing.
“We’re delighted to fund this £30m development and are grateful to the London Borough of Waltham Forest for their contribution of £1m for a substantial set of community and social initiatives in the new centre.”
East London artist Alice Druitt worked with two local schools, Sybourn Primary and St Joseph’s Catholic Junior, to design the hoarding for the site.
She encouraged year 5 pupils to draw what they hoped the new centre might be, bought their drawings to life to celebrate the future of the centre, and helped unveil the engaging artwork.
Once the centre is complete, the Authority will fund a £250,000 Community Engagement Programme that supports access to the venue for local community groups and schools.
This will give over 68,000 people the opportunity to try out different activities at the new venue.
The London Borough of Waltham Forest’s £1m funding will complement this programme to create a package of benefits for residents with initiatives for under-represented groups, crime prevention, mental health and wellbeing, and biodiversity awareness, along with an employment and apprenticeship scheme and free event tickets for schools and community groups.
Cllr Grace Williams, Leader Elect at the London Borough of Waltham Forest, said: “One of our top priorities is to bring more chances for young people in our area to be able to exercise, relax, and train in top-class facilities.
“This project will increase the capacity of Lee Valley Ice Centre, allowing for even more people to get involved, and will also deliver employment and apprenticeship opportunities for local residents.
“I am delighted that construction work has begun and I can’t wait to enjoy the new centre when it opens.
“Who knows, the Team GB Olympic ice stars of tomorrow could get their start here – it’s a really exciting opportunity for Waltham Forest.”
The development will create 45 new jobs in the new centre and offer a range of new opportunities in the sports and leisure sector, as well as boosting the local economy by £1.5 million a year. Construction is being carried out by Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd which has a track record of undertaking landmark projects and working closely with local communities.
Some of their recently completed schemes include the new football stadiums for Brentford FC and AFC Wimbledon.
Over the 15-month construction period, members of the public can find out more information by visiting our community website leevalleyicecentre.com or calling our 24/7 construction hotline 0800 093 1716