Ice rink organisers want to return to Priory Park in Chichester

The organisers of last year’s Christmas ice rink in Priory Park in Chichester would like to use the same location next year, councillors have been told.

Tuesday, 5th March 2019, 2:10 pm
Updated Tuesday, 5th March 2019, 2:15 pm
DM18113231a.jpg. Opening of Chichester Ice Rink in Priory Park. Photo by Derek Martin Photography. SUS-181130-185548008

Councillors in the district council’s Overview and Scrutiny committee on Tuesday March 12 are due to discuss the planning, outcome and response to the seasonal attraction.

Information reported to that committee includes details of how the event may have affected footfall and parking in the city centre and why Priory Park was chosen over other locations in the city for the ice rink.

The report mentions that the ice rink organisers S3K Ltd would like to consider ‘developing the Christmas offer further through links with Christmas markets and other festive activities’ with the aim of presenting a pre-application enquiry this month.

It also explains how delays in licensing and planning processes led to a very limited time for the contractor to plan and set up the attraction.

A representation from the Friends of Priory Park,whose members opposed the siting of the ice rink, is also included with the report.

It includes responses from Chichester District Council to concerns over the condition of the park and the planning and consultation process leading up to the event.

There were also 40 complaints from nine residents in relation to the ice rink, the council report said, but there had been no reported incidents in connection with the sale of alcohol or entertainment at the site.

Council officers report that the ice-rink had 19,072 skaters along with spectators. In that time, Chichester BID reported a general increase in visitors to the city in December 2018 although the shopper camera count in East Street went down by 7.3 per cent.

It added: “There were 1,999,820 visits to the area in December 2017 and counters recorded 2,067,300 in December 2018.

“That’s an increase of 67,480 visits overall, some of which will have been people attending the ice rink, as well as the general entertainment/events within the city.

“Retailers have reported on a decent sales period over the Christmas period but no reliable conversion data is available.

“Car parking tickets sold including payment by phone and app increased by just under 5,000 users for the car parks within the city during December 2018 when compared to the previous December.

“The recent pattern has been for the use of car parks to fall over recent months when compared to the previous year.

“Christmas Park and Ride use also increased slightly during December 2018 when compared to the previous year’s figures.”

In response to why Priory Park was chosen as a location for the ice rink, the council report stated that other possible sites had been considered, including Oaklands Park, New Park Road and land at Chichester Cathedral.

The other park sites were discounted due to winter sports pitch uses, the cathedral site is consecrated land (this has ruled out an ice-rink there in the past) and other areas such as Northgate car park and Cattle Market car park were considered unadvisable due to the demand for city parking over the Christmas period and market activities.

The report added that: “The satisfactory reinstatement of Priory Park was covered as a condition of planning and this condition has not yet been discharged.

“A site inspection will take place in March to identify if any further reinstatement works are required.”