Lee Valley Ice Centre opening in London

Lee Valley Regional Park Authority is opening a new Lee Valley Ice Centre (LVIC) in Waltham Forest, east London, on 17 June 2023, following a £30m project to create two Olympic-sized ice rinks, a gym, studios, café, and community space on the site of its old single rink venue. LDA Design is responsible for the £1.5m landscape transformation to help realise the ecological potential as part of the more expansive Lee Valley Regional Park.

Neil Mattinson, a director at LDA Design and project director for LVIC, says that the entire landscape design was pointed at enhancing the health and variety of ecosystems, drawing on research and local knowledge. “The landscape and ecological enhancements provide an opportunity for the recolonisation of typical marshland species, reconnecting us to the history of the place which a few hundred years ago used to be part of Broad Marshes.”

The site is adjacent to the River Lea. Former amenity grasslands are now native wildflower meadows. One hundred and fifty-three native trees have been planted including yew, hazel, alder, willow, and lime, plus 28 Black Poplars from cuttings harvested locally. Black poplars were once used to mark field boundaries on floodplains such as Walthamstow Marshes. 

The landscape along the site’s northern edge has been designed to create a green corridor allowing numerous species of invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, and small mammals to safely connect between the woodland areas to the east and west of the site. Bird and bat boxes, insect hotels and hedgehog shelters have been installed within the woodland.

A large former overflow car park to the east of the Centre and adjacent to Lea Bridge Road has been replaced with native species of trees, shrubs, and wildflower meadow, to create and expand key habitat types and enrich local biodiversity.

Lee Valley Ice Centre aims to be the most sustainable ice centre in the UK. Ice melt water will be treated and used to help new plants establish and create biodiverse rich ponds. Along with rainwater from the roof and improvements to nearby watercourses, ice melt water will help transform a near stagnant nearby pond, Oxbow Lake, into free flowing and oxygenated water. 

The sustainable drainage system includes the introduction of generous bioswales planted with native trees, shrubs, and perennials suitable for wet and dry conditions.

Each side of LVIC is designed to support nature and create microclimates for lichens and mosses. Stone filled gabion baskets front the building, incorporating bat boxes and supporting insects and small birds. Native climbers will feed butterflies and bees. Berry-laden ivy provides for birds in autumn. Swift boxes have been installed in the Ice Centre’s eastern elevation. Nectar-rich honeysuckle will attract night-flying insects, to feed a native bat population. Two large bespoke design bicycle shelters are topped by native biodiverse green roofs and insect hotels on each end.

Lee Valley Ice Centre

Landscape Architect: LDA Design

Images Credit: LDA Design

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Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at https://www.linkedin.com/in/damianholmes/