The planned launch of a Cribbs Causeway ice rink and skydiving centre has been pushed back a fourth time.
Baylis Estates is behind the £40million scheme for a leisure complex off Merlin Road, including an ice rink, skydiving centre, Jaguar Land Rover showroom and Costa Coffee drive-thru.
The rink and iFLY centre were initially scheduled to open in 2018, but they have been hit by a series of delays.
Baylis managing director David Mace told Bristol Live they are now set to launch in “very early 2021” and “there is no reason to think that won’t be the case”.
Mr Mace confirmed the skydiving centre will not open before the Planet Ice rink, but was unable to give further details on when the iFLY facility is likely to launch.
‘People have been quite cynical’
He said: “We’re getting an ice rink and that’s the most important thing. Building work will start this month.
“It was a case of getting the legal contracts done. We first spoke to Planet Ice in 2015, and the contracts were only confirmed last week.
“I wouldn’t just blame the lawyers. It just took a long time. Planet Ice has now taken a 25-year lease.
“A lot of people have been quite cynical about it because we have been talking about it a long time, but the dream is finally coming true.”
Below is a timeline of the story so far for the delay-hit 45,000 sq ft development.
A timeline of delays for Cribbs Causeway ice rink
Baylis Estates, which owns a one-third share of Cribbs Causeway, first considered a leisure complex on the site in 2014, following the closure of the nearby Filton Airfield in 2012. Mr Mace said “radar restrictions” from the airfield previously restricted development.
The developer put forward a planning application for the complex, which was approved in 2017. It was slated for a 2018 completion.
Baylis resubmitted the application due to changes to the plans. Permission was again granted later that year.
The developer’s website said launch was expected in May 2020. Baylis then told Bristol Live this had been pushed back to “mid-to-late 2020”. It revealed proposals for a ski slope had been scrapped because operator Skiplex had gone into administration.
Mr Mace said: “We can positively say both the skydiving centre and ice rink will be running in 2020.” He told Bristol Live he expected a launch date to be confirmed in early September. This did not happen.
Baylis announced the rink and skydiving centre are set to open in 2021. The Costa drive-thru is planned to launch this month and the showroom next spring.
What happens next?
Preparation work has started on the rink, with diggers and workmen on the site, clearing its borders.
Contractors Beard are set to start building work this month. This is expected to last nine to 10 months, then the fitting-out is predicted to take until 2021.
The Jaguar Land Rover showroom is still being built ahead of the scheduled spring 2020 opening.
The Costa drive-thru is being fitted out by the coffee chain and is likely to open later this month.
The leisure complex is expected to create 230 jobs. Its ice rink will be the first to open in Bristol since the Frogmore Street facility closed in 2012.
The rink will have capacity for 1,300 spectators and become home to the Bristol Pitbulls ice hockey team, as well as hosting public skating sessions.
Baylis is promising “international-standard” skating facilities at the rink.
Bristol born and bred Mr Mace, who has been a Baylis director for five years, said: “It will complement an already impressive array of neighbouring leisure activities at Cribbs Causeway.
“These include Hollywood Bowl and the Vue Cinema on the adjacent Venue Leisure Park, as well as Air Hop, Wild Place, and The Wave surfing lagoon close by.”
Heath Rhodes, chief operating officer at Planet Ice, added: “Bristol has been without an ice rink for too long, and we’re looking forward to bringing Planet Ice to Cribbs Causeway.
“We already serve an amazing 2.5 million customers a year in the UK, and this new location reflects our ambitious plans to continue our growth both here and overseas.”
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