Members at a planning committee have approved plans for a Christmas ice rink in the city to run from November 24 to January 6.
The debate on Wednesday was the second time councillors had to make a decision on the plans after measures to mitigate the noise had resulted in amendments to the scheme with two ‘tech zones’ rather than a single one and the method of securing the marquee structure to the ground being revised.
Mr Simon McGee, a supporter of the ice rink, said: “I run a local care business that supports older people in the local community.
“As I understand it, Priory Park was bequeathed to the community for community purposes. This event’s intentions is to provide a community spirit.”
Another supporter, Mr Christopher Spink said: “If we don’t do this, we will all become Ebenezer Scrooges. As far as I am concerned, we need something in Chichester, desperately.”
The applicant, Mr Edward White, said: “We understand and sympathise with those few who object and have tried to modify the proposals to mitigate their concerns. We have moved the generator as you know, and we have increased the acoustic fence. Both actions will reduce the noise for residents significantly.”
Philip Robinson, who has replaced Richard Plowman as chairman of Friends of Priory Park described the park as the jewel in the city’s crown, saying the proposals could tarnish it forever. He said:
“None of the objections we have listened to so far have objected to an ice rink as a focal point for Christmas festivities. It’s a good idea but our position is to be vociferous in the defence of the vulnerabilities of the park.”
Conditions attached to the approval of the plans include a scheme for the making good of the ground and reinstatement of the grass and a scheme to deal with ice water melting from the decommissioning of the ice rink. Both these schemes must be submitted to the council within a month.
Cllr Jane Kilby said: “I had concerns at the last meeting, particularity on siting of the tech zones and generators. I am very pleased to see that we are going to have no fixing into the sub structure of the soil which I believe was a concern of members last time and we are having the ballasts.”
Cllr Graeme Barratt expressed concerns over the plans. He said: “I fully support an ice rink in Chichester but my concern is, for me, this is the wrong location. This is too close to residential properties. I would support this application if it’s a one-off event at this location.”
Cllr Richard Plowman said: “I don’t think the size of this has been taken into consideration in terms of the actual park itself. You can actually fit four Guildhalls in the structure.
“There will be a 2.4 metre fence around the fence. It will stand up there with no means of support which is a little tricky. Any view of the Guildhall will not be so. The setting is actually irrelevant.”
The licence will be considered on Thursday, November 22 by the Alcohol and Entertainment Licensing Sub-Committee.