Councillors unanimously approve demolition of Bristol's ice rink
THE battle over the future of Bristol's ice rink ended with a whimper as councillors voted to approve new student flats on the site.
A planning committee deciding whether to knock down the ice rink on Frogmore Street and replace it with 448 flats voted unanimously in favour at City Hall yesterday.
Just two objections were raised by the public at the meeting, one of which was withdrawn. And councillors gave little discussion to the plans they said were "difficult to get passionate about".
After the decision was made, an objector from Bristol's Civic Society, David Cave, branded the committee as "spineless".
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Addressing the meeting earlier, Mr Cave had said: "This is only one of 130 ice rinks like this in the country. It is unique and part of Bristol's standing as a regional centre."
After the meeting Mr Cave told The Post that he had hoped the council would argue for more money to cover replacement facilities.
He said: "I was disappointed there wasn't more discussion. Viability has got nothing to do with it if you consider how much (developer) Unite will be profiting in the long run."
At the start of the meeting, design and planning director at Unite Jagdeep Bhogal presented a statement which said the new developments would provide much-needed accommodation which would ease pressure on rented properties in the area. He also said Unite had invested £100 million in the city over the last 21 years.
Mr Bhogal said the developers would commit £572,617 towards community schemes in the area, as part of the planning agreement.
Councillor Mahmadur Khan (Lab, Eastville) proposed that Unite offer more money as part of the agreement.
He said: "I'm very sad to see this ice rink gone and there's no viable proposal. People from the city have been going all the way to Cardiff and Swindon. We are a huge city and we don't have an ice rink.
"I would request whether they [Unite] would think again to increase their contribution."
Mr Khan's suggestion was overruled by the chairman, Alex Woodman, who warned against "buying and selling planning policy".
Earlier, Mr Woodman (Lib Dem, Cabot) had told the meeting he was neither enthusiastic or negative about the plans.
Christian Martin (Lib Dem, Clifton East) added: "It's difficult to get passionate about this one."
Along with councillors Henry Havvock, Margaret Hickman, Derek Pickup and Alex Pearce, they voted to approve the plans.
After the meeting, owner of Bristol ice hockey team, the Bristol Pitbulls, Richie Hargreaves said the decision had been "very disappointing".
He said: "Bristol ice rink is years old for a reason. It's been a massively big part of this city for years. We've lost something that has made many people happy."
Mr Hargreaves re-affirmed fears voiced at the meeting that the closure could mean saying "goodbye to ice sports in Bristol".