Wed, 04 Jul 2018
A NEW ice rink could be coming to Thatcham – but it won’t be open to the general public.
Instead, it will be used as a training centre for athletes competing in sports such as ice hockey, figure skating, speed skating and sledge hockey.
If the plans are approved, it will be the first facility of its kind in the country.
XO Training Ltd has put in the plans to change the use of Unit 2 Pipers Court to construct an ice training centre.
However, the centre is being proposed as a members-only facility.
For this reason, planning documents say that the 25 parking spaces currently on site will be sufficient.
It will use real ice, synthetic ice and Dryland ice and XO said that, although the main rink will be significantly smaller than an Olympic rink, it will be ideal for training purposes.
The company said that there were limited facilities for ice sports training in UK, adding that the closest public rinks are in Swindon and Basingstoke.
The site has been used as a workshop/storage space and offices, but the company has outgrown the premises and vacated.
XO said that the ice training centre will employ 10 full-time and 10 part-time staff, of which at least 13 will be recruited from the local area.
It is proposed to open from 8am until 10pm throughout the week.
XO said that the centre would “help build a strong responsive economy by providing a much-needed high-quality training facility for ice sports”.
Furthermore, it claimed that it would “diversify recreational and leisure facilities available and provide the opportunity for school children to participate in ice sports which are not currently available in the district and require significant travel to other countries”.
And while admitting that some office space would be lost, XO said that “the proposed use will continue to offer a significant and meaningful level of employment and therefore continue to support employment and economic activity within the district”.
Planning documents say that units 4 and 5 at Pipers Court have been marketed, with little interest, for almost two years.
Indeed, documents from Newbury-based commercial property agent Deal Varney say that: “Since Brexit, the property market in Thatcham has suffered substantially, with demand for office and warehousing space significantly lower across a number of business parks.”
West Berkshire Council is expected to make a decision on the plans by August 2.
The plans can be viewed by entering the reference number 18/01350/FUL into the planning search facility on the council’s website.