In 2004, the CDIF in conjunction with Sedgefield Borough Council commissoned a Feasibility Study to examine the possibility of redeveloping part of Newton Aycliffe’s Leisure Centre to incorporate a first-floor ice facility. Intially, spectator capacity was restricted to 600 spectators, however as the study progressed, it became clear that the rink would be able to sustian crowds much bigger, and so the design wa reconfigured to accomodate 1,600 seated specators with additional standing room. Because of it’s elevated location within the redesigned building, the ice facility was dubbed the “Sky Rink” by it’s designers.
The images below show how the “Sky Rink” could have looked. Due to a restrictive footprint, and the desire by the architects to maximise seating capacity within the space available, a distinctive design was drawn up with two tiers of seating down one length of the rink, two smaller tiers at the opposite side, and one stand of seating behind the goal, with room for standing at the other end.
ABOVE: Architects drawings showing each end of the building facing Stephenson Way and Beveridge Way, as well as a cross-section demonstrating the building’s tiered seating configuration.
ABOVE: A cross-section of the building which would have featured an international-sized ice pad
ABOVE: A view from the Beveridge Way corner of the building showing the spiral staircases leading to the upper-tiers of seating on the main stand
ABOVE: A view of the main seating area from the opposite side of the ice
ABOVE: Looking onto the ice from the lower tier
Despite the Feasibility Study coming out extremely favourably with regard to the proposed development, it was not to be, and at Christmas 2004, the site owners (Freshwater) pulled the plug on the plans.
The decision to terminate the project was blamed upon the site owners (Freshwater) unwillingness to commit funding to the project despite research by Adventure on Ice demonstrating that the scheme was feasible. The whole project, which would have included extensively refurbished retail units and a remodelled and improved entrance to the existing leisure centre was estimated to cost £7.2m
Phil Ball, Director of Leisure Services for Sedgefield Borough Council stated in The Northern Echo (31st March 2005) “We were very serious about the idea and disappointed it won’t be possible.”
A company spokesperson for Freshwater said “We are still working very closely with the council to plan the town centre’s redevelopment, in particular to create a greater amount of retail close to the leisure centre.”
In a nutshell – no ice rink. More shops.