Get Your Skates On

We thought we’d take a brief look at the proposed Colchester Winter Wonderland that is up in front of the CBC Planning Committee [pdf] on Thursday.

It does seem slightly odd to be blogging about a Winter Wonderland during the first week of the school summer hols…

The formal application asks for:

“Provision of a Winter Wonderland and Ice Rink with germanic chalets selling traditional Christmas items. The site will open on the 26th November 2015 and close on 3rd January 2016. Opening times to be 10am til 10pm each day apart from Sundays when it will close at 9pm.”

Conditional approval is the recommendation from the apolitical CBC officer.

The project is being proposed by Hythe based Illuminate Design. It’s the same organisation that delivered the successful Big Screen in Castle Park over the summer.

It’s good to see a local company pitching in with local knowledge to try and deliver something locally, albeit for commercial gain.

The big hitter will of course be the ice rink. The planning application states that the rink will have a capacity of 150 skaters at any one time.

The rest of the report leads VERY heavily on the archeological interests around Castle Park.

The main debate seems to be about protecting the layers of Sunny Colch history that aren’t that deep below the Castle Park top surface.

It’s a delicate balancing act, but one which the applicant and CBC seems to have come to agreement on.

You wouldn’t want to dump a Winter Wonderland on a Tesco car park on the outskirts of town.

The Castle provides the perfect historic setting, but you need to be respectful of the surrounds.

With CBC taking on more of a commercial role as it seeks new ways to balance the books, we can expect similar planning applications to come.

The Enterprise & Tourism Development Manager at CBC is in agreement:

“This new attraction will help to drive footfall to the town centre, bring additional spending to the town from visitors from the surrounding area and also help to enhance Colchester’s image and reputation in the region.”

As for car parking concerns in the centre of town?

“Special offers in town centre car parks are planned to support the event and these could be purchased online with tickets.”

Plus:

“The Castle Road gateway into the park will be locked during the evening and this should discourage opportunist parking in the Roman Road/Castle Road area.”

We can’t see the Illuminate Design coming across too many problems at Planning on Thursday. It appears to be well-considered application with plenty of input from the relevant officers and organisations.

If successful then the opening of Winter Wonderland is expected to coincide with the great TURNING ON of the Colchester Christmas lights.

The weather may be an issue. Ideally you would wish for snow. But if the Christmas run in is cursed with five weeks of rain then the Winter Wonderland may be a bit of a wash out.

Plus there’s no mention of pricing. This may be equally as important as the weather when it comes to judging the success of Winter Wonderland.

CBC and Illuminate Design did an ACE job in keeping the Big Screen film tickets down to £2.

Does anyone know whatever happened to Diamond Ice along Whitehall Road btw?