An ice rink which was erected in Horsham Park last winter amid public controversy will not be returning to the site this year.
Horsham District Council says that it has made the decision “following a review of the impact the ice rink made on the park over the winter and into the spring.”
A string of objections were raised last year when plans for the rink to be temporarily sited in the park were first revealed by Horsham Outdoor Events. The company had previously staged an ice rink at Camping World near Hilliers Garden Centre in Brighton Road.
Concerns were raised about the impact on parking in the park, trees and wildlife and disturbance to nearby homes which led to the formation of the action group the New Friends of Horsham Park.
The rink opened in October and was in action through to the end of January but sparked further controversy when it was removed, leaving churned up grass and damaged spring bulbs.
A spokesman for Horsham District Council said this week: “We would like to thank Horsham Outdoor Events for bringing the covered ice rink to Horsham Park last year. However following a review of the impact the ice rink made on the park over the winter and into the spring, the ice rink will not be returning to Horsham Park.
“We wish Horsham Outdoor Events every success in finding a new venue for the popular rink. “
Horsham Outdoor Events director Suzanne Fearn said: “We are indeed very disappointed that the council have not approved the ice rink this year. We have had thousands of happy customers enjoying the ice for the last two years.”
She added: “Unfortunately Horsham District Council have not given us any other options of alternative locations in Horsham for the rink so we are in discussions with Crawley Council to move the rink to a much larger location in Crawley.”
Horsham Council announced its decision not to allow the ice rink to return to the park this year after members of the conservation group the Horsham Society voiced concerns that there were plans for the ice rink to be sited in the park each winter for a period of seven years.
Sally Sanderson, chairman of the Friends of Horsham Park, said: “Horsahm District Council has decided to take a more strategic look at the need for an events space in the park as part of the park management plan. We welcome this.
“It is critical that if any of the park is lost to further development that this is thought through properly, that a watertight business case is made and that it is something residents want more than the open and free to use green space.
“We have always argued that the park is not the best place for an ice rink as it is too far from town for the businesses, cafes and restaurants to benefit, as was shown last year.
“It would not have made good economic sense to push this through this year.”
She said there was “some appetite for more events such as theatre in the park, but this is limited and more people are concerned about loss of green space which once gone, is lost to future generations.
“This weekend’s Enchanted Garden, I’m sure will be fun for those who have purchased tickets, but a large and poplular part of the park will be inaccessible to everyone else.
“This is just for one weekend but what if something like this were happening regularly? We understand that cash-strapped councils need to raise money but the long term impact of losing green space or excluding people from it needs to be considered properly.”