Could there be an ice rink on the King Alfred site in Hove?

THERE are renewed calls for an ice rink to be built on the site of a seafront leisure centre – and for the city’s ice hockey team to be resurrected.

Campaigners have been demanding a new attraction in the city since Brighton’s last permanent ice rink closed 18 years ago.

Numerous plans for a permanent ice rink in the city have been proposed and scrapped over the years.

The Argus: Sussex Ice Quest. Photo Credit: Sussex Ice RinkSussex Ice Quest. Photo Credit: Sussex Ice Rink

But now Emma Andrews, a campaigner from the group Sussex Ice Rink, is urging the council to reconsider plans to build a rink on the wasteland next to The King Alfred Centre in Hove.

She also wants a return of the Brighton Tigers ice hockey team.

Emma says that the vacant site, above the old ten pin bowling area on the west side of the centre, has been “unused for decades” and that an ice rink would provide people in the city with a “fun and effective” way of exercise.

The Argus: Plans for an ice rink on the King Alfred site. Photo credit: Sussex Ice RinkPlans for an ice rink on the King Alfred site. Photo credit: Sussex Ice Rink

She said: “The wasteland has always been publicly owned and it has just been sat doing nothing. We want to give it back to the people because there is no facility for ice skating in Brighton.

“Ice skating is low impact, its really good for all abilities and it would bring in a huge amount of tourism for the community. It’s a win, win situation.

“We have to go all the way to Streatham or Guilford to go ice-skating. Every time we have the temporary ice rink at the Royal Pavilion it has been hugely popular.

“It’s just a really good exercise for people and to see if we can resurrect the Brighton Tigers as well.”

Plans for an ice rink on the King Alfred site were first proposed in 2011, when businessman Simon James submitted a pre-application for planning advice.

In 2016, the economic development and culture committee recommended that Brighton and Hove City Council carry out “soft market testing” over a four-month period to identify the potential for an ice rink to be provided in the city.

A spokesman for the council said: “At the time nobody came forward with any feasible plans.”

After weighing up the possibility of building a new ice rink at Victoria Recreation Ground in Portslade, attention has now turned back to the King Alfred site.

The Sussex Ice Rink campaign group are urging the council to set up a three to five-year temporary rink to test the demand and to see if it would be viable on the site.

Emma says the pandemic has made people look locally for entertainment and an ice rink would serve the community whilst also boosting tourism.

She said: “People are looking at doing staycations and we must remember that so many people have lost their jobs because of the pandemic.

“We need facilities that are easy to get to and I think people just want to join up together again to socialise and do things that we haven’t been able to do.”

Brighton and Hove City Council said that its long-term plan is to “redevelop” the King Alfred leisure centre and it is “currently in the process of identifying a way forward for this to happen.

A spokesman said: “Our current priorities are responding to the need for replacement swimming pools and improving existing facilities.

“However, we’ve just run a consultation on sports and leisure facilities across our city.

“We already know from the responses to this that our residents are interested in a very wide range of activities.

“We expect a report containing an analysis of the consultation responses and recommendations for future sports and leisure provision across the city to be considered by councillors at a meeting later this year.”

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