Current plans include the demolition of all Oxpens buildings to make way for residential properties and business offices. Originally, the council had suggested the ice rink could be included within the buildings removed to make way for the development. The suggested replacement plan was a retirement home, due to its convenient location for such a facility.
However, despite public concern over the future of the ice rink during a recent city council consultation, the council has concluded the facility will not be removed during its building lifetime.
City councillor Colin Cook, executive city board member for city development, commented, “I don’t know what the lifespan of the building is, but we have got no plans to replace it. When the master plan was released it clearly set hares running and we are trying to stop that. Clearly, when the opportunity presents itself, we might be able to replace it but that is in the long, long term.”
The popularity of the ice rink is clear with recent figures highlighting it being Oxford’s second most popular leisure centre with 209,860 visits in 2012/2013.
Richard Carpenter, secretary of Oxford City Stars ice hockey club, “It is extremely positive news that this has been agreed and the future of the ice rink is secure.
“It is a crucial facility for the city to have. Ice skating is great exercise because it takes a lot of stamina.”
Oxford students also welcomed the news, among them a number of ALTS players. One first year student told Cherwell, “I really enjoy playing ALTS and am keen to learn more about the game and to play it at a higher level. I am glad the centre will remain open to allow me to do this. The disco themed skating nights are also incredibly popular amongst many of us a social activity, so this facility really is a crucial part of Oxford student life.”
Daniel Johnson, an ALTS enthusiast commented, “The news that the Oxford ice rink will be retained is a great load off my mind. Alts, which takes place at the rink, is a great way for students to chill out while still playing a sport.”