Frustration bubbled over this week as Lisburn and Castlereagh councillors bemoaned slow progress towards the redevelopment of the Dundonald Ice Bowl.
The long wait for redevelopment of the site off Old Dundonald Road has gone on for several years.
The Ice Bowl opened in 1986 and has around 600,000 visitors every year, with the original revamp pencilled for 2017 before the project was put on hold.
In 2019, the council released a first glimpse of its proposal to revamp the Ice Bowl.
The new proposal included a new Olympic-sized rink, ten pin bowling alley, cafe, healthcare centre and gym.
The annoyance of councillors came from a Capital Projects Committee this week — with one councillor labelling a new report on the project as “ludicrous”.
Council officers outlined an updated timetable on the project to date as part of the report, including the implementation of the ongoing design phase.
In the new report, issued after councillors requested monthly updates on the project, it was revealed that five options would be compiled for further discussion.
These options included phasing of the construction of components, and the removal of some those components entirely from phase one, including the omission of a healthcare centre, adventure facilities and a new play park.
Alderman David Drysdale said the options outlined by the council were ‘mystifying’, adding that ‘he didn’t know where officers were trying to go with the report’.
“I thought there would have been more correspondence from the Department [for Communities] on the project and more clarification on the so called £5m that was offered,” Mr Drysdale said.
“I would have been interested to see if any letters had been exchanged with [GP] Surgeries and other businesses who are interested because good business attracts other business.
“The importance of all of this is because it’s important that while we see money going out, we also need to see money going in. If this is done correctly then the rental [money] will cover the cost of the loan.
“I don’t understand why [we want to get rid of] healthcare, adventure and play park because all of these things bring in revenue and big revenue.
“I’m not really sure where the officers are coming from with this [report]. The more business we can get it and money we can get in will pay for this and less then for the ratepayer.”
Meanwhile, Councillors had previously committed to net spending no more than £36.2m on the project at November Capital Projects Committee meeting.
However, Lisburn Castlereagh’s Director of Service Transformation Donal Rogan said there was another option which would include maintaining healthcare while omitting adventure facilities and a new play park from phase one of the redevelopment.
He added: “This is all about the metrics. We need to bring forward to you the evidence base around the decision that you need to make around the investment [and] that is what we are in the process of working up and we won’t leave no stone unturned and you will get sight of it.”
The council also revealed that they continue to engage with business across the local council area in regards to leasing spaces within the redeveloped Ice Bowl.
It is also understood that the Belfast Giants met with council officials on January 8 and were “very impressed” with the proposals outlined.
However, Deputy Mayor Jenny Palmer also took issue with the “very benign” report and questioned the purpose of the meeting, saying the report ‘could’ve been emailed out’.
She added: “I know there has been a lot of work and there has been some engagement but there hasn’t been any further developments. We know [the council] are engaged with the healthcare surgeries and the Department [of Communities].
“But we are a long way off it appears from getting any results and I just wonder what is the merit of having this meeting wh