IPW… Limited was commissioned by Cushman & Wakefield, on behalf of Derby City Council, in May 2016 to undertake a feasibility study for an ice rink in Derby city centre. This first stage of the study is to determine the headline viability and deliverability of a new facility in Derby and the surrounding area. This work is intended to facilitate an informed decision on the project’s next steps.

Market analysis

Derby has offered a seasonal, outdoor ice rink for four to five weeks over the Christmas period since 2011. Over the past four seasons it has attracted on average 16,956 people. While temporary rinks typically attract casual skaters who would not necessarily be regular visitors to a traditional rink, this throughput shows a good base level of skating interest.

The Ice Market

The East Midlands market is currently underserved. There are about 40 ice rinks in England and based on the per capita use of the five facilities in the region, the East Midlands ranks 6th out of the nine regions. Its per capita use of 0.65 pads per million people is below the national average of 0.77 pads per million people.


To sustain a pad in Derby requires a catchment benchmark of 250,000 within a 20-30 minute drive time. Derby has four times this population (1.1m) within the benchmark time.

Ice competitors

There are five ice facilities, which are within a 45-minute drive from Derby. Four of the five are for leisure and won’t compete with a Derby pad. The fifth and largest is the National Ice Centre (NIC) in Nottingham but the Derby indoor pad would complement rather than compete with it.

Other leisure competition

Other leisure facilities, such as cinemas, bowling alleys or trampoline parks, are natural competitors of an ice pad. It is therefore proposed that a Derby ice pad will have other leisure uses within the facility, which will not only complement the primary ice uses but also provide additional revenue streams that support the funding and financing of the facility and make it operationally sustainable.


Derby has a sizeable catchment of 1.1 million people within a 30-minute drive, which is well in excess of industry requirements (250,000). Also the throughput at the seasonal ice rink held at the Market Place, demonstrates a good baseline of interest in ice skating in the area.
Despite five ice facilities being close to Derby, the majority of these are leisure pads and therefore the main competition to a rink in Derby will be the National Ice Centre (NIC), in Nottingham. Through further population proximity analysis, it was identified that despite the locality of the NIC to Derby, there is still a significant number of people in the region to sustain an ice pad in Derby and sufficient demand to sustain an ice facilities in both cities.


IPW… Limited has engaged with a series of key consultees in the course of this feasibility study, to understand stakeholders’ opinion on a prospective ice facility, future opportunities, interest in operation of a facility, and other key market factors. These include current operators as well as ice skating and ice hockey associations.

It is apparent from the consultations that there is strong support for an ice rink in Derby, from Derby Live which operates entertainment venues in Derby, three of four ice pad operators, national governing bodies for ice skating and ice hockey.

Ice pad development options

Based on analysis undertaken together with the Council’s direction that no capital funding would be directly available to support the development of an ice rink, headline facilities requirements for Derby Ice Pad are:

  1. International ice pad (56m x 26m)
  2. 500 capacity
  3. Ancillary leisure use, including:
    1. 70-station gym
    2. Dance/ Exercise studio
    3. Skate hire
    4. Reception
    5. Pro shop
    6. Two changing rooms
    7. Café/ bar accessible from both inside and outside the facility

A traditional, competitive ice rink would maximise the venue’s flexibility. While leisure pads have been delivered in markets such as Plymouth and Hemel Hempstead, they cannot host ice hockey or figure skating due to their size and shape.

We have considered both International and Olympic ice pad solutions. Each would deliver public skating and ice sports, and would be able to accommodate all ice uses except for high level competitive figure skating. We recommend that a 56m x 26m ice pad would deliver the key ice requirements for a new ice rink in Derby, and that an Olympic rink would be unlikely to attract significant additional throughput or benefit commensurate with the additional capital cost.

Furthermore, due to the additional capital cost associated with a larger rink/ building envelope, constraints of the site selecting an international pad allows room for additional health & fitness facilities and therefore helps ensure that the facility is operationally sustainable.

Since competitive, high-level ice hockey is not likely to be sustainable in a new rink, mirroring the national trend, we would not expect that significant seating or changing provision would be required, thereby reducing capital cost. It is likely that two sports changing rooms, and a 500 capacity, would be sufficient to meet the needs of users.

The additional ancillary dry-side leisure facilities, the health and fitness gym and exercise studio have been included in the facility mix in light of the identification of latent demand for these facilities in Derby City Centre. These facilities could be a significant revenue generator and complement the ice in creating a leisure destination in Derby.

Permanent ice pads have typically been a relatively significant capital investment. Single pad rinks developed and delivered by the public sector have traditionally had an outturn cost of about £8m-13m, depending on the specification (ice pad size, spectator capacity etc.).
These capital cost projections are subject to further testing, and to particular site-specific and other refinements that should be considered in future work.

See also: Derby Ice Rink: all your questions answered

Published: 14 March 2017