Idea is right but park is wrong for Chichester ice rink

C111843-1 Chi Park phot kate''Priory Park.C111843-1 ENGSNL00120111123115024
C111843-1 Chi Park phot kate''Priory Park.C111843-1 ENGSNL00120111123115024

The idea of a Christmas ice rink in Chichester is excellent – subject to it being sited in an appropriate location.

Despite substantive objections, last Wednesday the district council planning committee gave a promoter provisional approval to install a rink next month in Priory Park, an entirely unsuitable venue.

Priory Park lies in the centre of a confined residential area, with many homes situated extremely close to the park boundary.

The rink will be in place for some six weeks.

Undertakings by the promoter to mitigate the expected high night-time noise levels from the large 24-hour generator, chiller units, pumps and other plant required to operate the rink remain unproven.

There appear to be no arrangements for robust policing of access to the park between the normal hours of closing at dusk each day, and 10.30pm each evening when the rink closes (longer on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve).

The park houses significant heritage assets, including the Roman and medieval walls, the Guildhall, the Motte and the locally-listed Priory Lodge and White Pavilion.

Regrettably there have been incidents of vandalism in the park under cover of darkness, most recently the damage to the Coadestone statue: the cost of its repair will amount to many thousands of pounds.

For this very reason the district council abandoned plans in 2016 to leave Priory Park unlocked at night.

Discussions between the promoter and the district council about an ice rink have reportedly been under way for two years.

Given the significant environmental, security, noise and alcohol-driven anti-social issues arising from the use of Priory Park as a venue, one wonders why the planning committee failed to require from council officers comprehensive assessments of alternative and more suitable sites for consideration at its meeting last Wednesday.

Edward Milward-Oliver, St Martin’s Square, Chichester