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Ice rink to stay open under revised Oxpens masterplan
An artist’s impression of the Oxpens masterplan facing north over Oxpens Meadow, prior to the decision to retain the ice rink.
OXFORD’S ice rink will be staying put as part of a major redevelopment of part of Oxford’s city centre.
Plans are afoot to demolish all the buildings on the Oxpens site and replace them with homes, student flats and business premises.
As part of its original Oxpens Masterplan, Oxford City Council suggested that the ice rink site could be included in that development – with the document suggesting that it would be a good location for a retirement home.
Artists impressions even showed what the site would look like without the ice rink in place.
But following a public consultation in which the future of the ice rink was a “recurring question”, the city council has said the facility will not be going anywhere within the building’s lifetime.
City councillor Colin Cook, the executive board member for city development, said: “I don’t know what the lifespan of the building is, but we have got no plans to replace it.
“When the masterplan 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.”
Figures show the ice rink is Oxford’s second most popular leisure centre with 209,860 visits in 2012/13. Ferry Leisure Centre in Summertown is the most popularwith 501,000 visits.
But the masterplan for the site says the ice rink could be demolished in the medium to long term.
Richard Carpenter, secretary of Oxford City Stars ice hockey club, welcomed the announcement.
He said: “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.”
It is expected the 20-acre site will include houses and flats, offices, research and development space, a hotel and a public square, with Oxpens Meadow preserved.
About eight acres of the site is owned by the city council itself while another eight is owned by British Rail Board (Residuary), a Department for Transport body responsible for the disposal of any non-operational railway land. It is working with the city council on the scheme.
It is estimated that work could start in 2015.
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