Trafalgar Square-style public art planned for 1,000-home development at former ice rink site

Romford Ice Rink site

Havering Council has received an application to build 1,010 new homes on the former Romford Ice Rink site. - Credit: Ken Mears

The developer planning a housing complex on the former Romford ice rink site has signed a deal to create public art in the potential new district.

Impact Capital Group submitted an application to build 1,010 new homes on the former Romford Ice Rink site to Havering Council earlier this year.

Now, it has made an agreement with Havering Arts Council for the seven-acre Rom Valley Gardens site to include paving design, electronic moving images and a fourth plinth concept for Gateway Art similar to the empty plinth near Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square that’s used for art displays.

The deal with the arts organisation is part of a second planning application by Impact Capital to go to Havering Council, but without any legal obligation.  

“A five-year sponsorship will help relaunch the summer theatre after the pandemic,” the arts organisation’s chair Chrissie O’Connor said.  

“The partnership to showcase our adult and child competition entries and winners at Rom Valley Gardens will be great, particularly the fourth plinth concept on the new plaza allowing us to exhibit larger artworks. It’s a challenge that will promote local artists at this ‘gateway to Romford’.”  

The arts council saw the potential exhibits of the Trafalgar Square-style fourth plinth concept, with the agreement increasing public space by more than 60 per cent. 

The final decision, however, rests with Havering Council. 

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The scheme, known as Rom Valley Gardens, envisages 1,000 homes and possibly an NHS clinic, restoring the brownfield site into a new urban village to “reintegrate” Queen’s Hospital, the bus interchange depot and Oldchurch Park with the town centre.  

The developers say the plans comply with Havering Council’s 2019 masterplan to regenerate Romford town centre. 

However, there has been some objection to the plans. In October last year, The Rom Way Action Group alleged there were a number of problems with building on the site, including fears it would "turn the town into a concrete jungle ghetto".

Impact, which bought the site for £16 million, disputes these claims. 

The site currently has planning consent for 620 homes and commercial space for shops.

The planning application is due to be determined by the town hall by spring 2022.

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