Doing a 360; Cumbernauld's vacant Ice House to be an indoor skate park

Written by Scott Campbell.
Published at 18:00 on 14 November 2013.
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Ice House has been empty for years. Picture: courtesy of Bill Henry.

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CUMBERNAULD Media has learned that the town’s former ice rink is being developed neither into a retail outlet, nor a cinema or second ice rink, but rather an indoor skating park.

Last year, we brought you the story that the vacant Ice House property was available to let for £100,000, with our report attempting to seek answers on the long-term future of the St Mungo’s Road ‘retail park’.

The vacant Ice House closed in the 1990s, signalling the long-term decline of the area, which was followed up with Cumbernauld’s B&Q unit closing down, in 2006, and moving to the new Westway Retail Park. Since then, the General George Carpets and Bed Shed outlets have closed, although Cumbernauld’s Freedom City Church are planning to relocate to the vacant units in the near future, as renovation work commences.

In September 2012, we confirmed that Aldi were in talks with Gordon Bavaird – the then director of Bavaird Developments Limited, the company which owned the premises. 

Mr Bavaird told Cumbernauld Media, back in September 2012, that a, “number of offers were on the table”, although similar suggestions had been promised before, with plans to convert the Ice House into a bingo hall binned, as well as plans by Bothwell businessman, Raymond Codona, in 2006, to turn the property into a nightclub; plans which fell short of fruition after furious criticism by former councillor, Betty Gemmell. 

Other previous plans had included the conversion of the unit to four retail units, with a planning application, received by North Lanarkshire Council’s planning department, on 21st February 2003, permitted, but not followed through; with a similar application lodged on May, 9th 2008.

Since Codona’s failed plans, seven years ago, the unit has remained vacant, and available to let at a six-figure sum, although potential owners and tenants may have been put off by a lack of parking, litter, boarded up windows and a lack of maintenance.

As part of our story, last August, we reported that the vacant Bed Shed and General George Carpets units were owned by Stockland (Cumbernauld) Limited; the local trading name of Stockland Corporation Limited, a property group based and started in Australia, with properties throughout the world. 

According to Companies House, last year, Stockland (Cumbernauld) Limited, was registered as a privately limited company on April 2nd 2007, with its classification being the ‘buying and selling of own real estate.’ 

Talking to Alison Robertson, Asset Management Director of Stockland, Cumbernauld Media learned that talks were constantly undertaken by all the relevant parties, to regenerate the St Mungo’s Retail Park.

Alison told us, “I am hopeful about the future of the area. I regularly hold meetings with the council and all other helpful parties. 

“What the area needs is everyone to play a role in the area’s development and the council have been proactive when comes to the area, with Derek’s team more than willing to hold meetings with myself. We have even looked at improving the area.”

Pressed on the details of the Ice House unit, Ms Roberston said: “We [Stockland] don’t want to win a gold watch from this; we are being pragmatic about how we go about things, we want to improve the area and bring more business to Cumbernauld.”

She added that the Ice House’s owners wanted to relinquish their ownership of the vacant premised.

Alison added: “I have been trying to organise a meeting with the owners of the old ice rink, as they are desperate to sell their interest in the building.”

“There is certainly high interest in the area and its units; we even have a retailer sniffing around the retail park and a visit was held recently.”

“If everything falls into place, in six month, a new retailer could be moving in. I’m confident about it.”

Since then, the old Bed Shed and General George Carpets units have been promised a new lease of life, after the Freedom City Church unveiled their positive vision for the units, with a planning application now granted, and work expected to kick off soon.

Talking to Cumbernauld Media in March, this year, Jim Gibson, Pastor of Freedom City Church, said that the Freedom City Church held its aim to “serve the community” at “heart”.

He said: “We’ve been in Cumbernauld for twenty odd years; starting out life as the Cumbernauld Community Church. And now, twenty years on, we have grown, becoming the Freedom City Church between ten or twelve years ago.

“Despite our name change, however, we have always kept our heart fixed on our aim; our aim being to serve the community.”

Jim of the FCC has big plans for the units. Picture: courtesy of Bill Henry.

Jim added: “Our plans, so far, will see our Worship services moved to the Retail Park; a community hub built, with a number of community focused activities likely to be held regularly; a café and other community services aimed at benefitting the community, such as debt advice and unemployment assistance.”

Despite his Church’s new home playing the role of neighbour to the Ice House unit, Jim was unaware of what the audible hammering and sawing was for; sounds which echoed through the walls during our interview with the Pastor. 

He repeated rumours that the premises had something to do with the soft-play facility in Westfield Industrial Estate, known as ‘Adventure Planet’. 

Later that day, we put the suggestion to Adventure Planet. 

The company, though, said the rumour was simply alien, with one of the business’s managers telling Cumbernauld Media, in March that, “Adventure Planet are not going anywhere.”

Since then, though, Cumbernauld Media has learned that Gordon Bavaird has sold on the Ice House premises to the owners of the Adventure Planet, meaning previous rumours had some validity to them.

The retail park improved when B&M  stores opened. Picture: courtesy of Bill Henry.

Details say that businessman Amin Hussain, 57, who’s the owner of the Adventure Planet facility, in Westfield, and another soft-play facility in Linwood, is the new owner of the Ice House property, with the unit’s previous owner, Mr Bavaird, confirming this to Cumbernauld Media.

Over the past few months, vans have come and gone from the facility; some branded as ‘store fitters’, and others dragging bags of concrete into the unit.

Mr Bavaird has confirmed that the Ice House facility will soon be home to a brand-new, indoor skate park facility, although more details were not available.

The new lease of life for the vacant unit is supported by Hussain’s registration of ‘RNR Cumbernauld Limited’, on 6th September 2013; a company whose address is listed at Chryston Business Centre, in Cloverhill Place.

The Business Centre is comprised of a number of offices, all of which are owned and let out by North Lanarkshire Council.

The North Lanarkshire Council website no longer holds the details of Hussain’s office at the Centre, which is office 1. However, a cached version of the council’s website – from April – shows the office was ‘under offer’, for an annual rent of £3,800, and service charges of £1,550.

Cumbernauld Media attempted to contact Mr Hussain through his Adventure Planet facility, and through previous design companies, who acted as agents for the business, during a 2008 planning application, to convert the former industrial warehouse to a soft-play facility. 

Mr Hussain couldn't be contacted.

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