Dundonald Ice Bowl contract downsized as council confirms winning bidder withdrew from tender process

Adventure play area and healthcare hub cut from £55m build contract awarded to second place Heron Bros

An artist's impression of the redeveloped Dundonald Ice Bowl.
An artist's impression of the redeveloped Dundonald Ice Bowl.

The company originally awarded the contract for the redevelopment of the Dundonald Ice Bowl, pulled out of the project late last year, Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council has confirmed.

Newry-based Felix O’Hare was initially awarded the multi-million-pound contract in late 2023.

But the company withdrew from the competition with the result that the £55 million contract was awarded to second place Heron Bros.

A council spokesperson said the Newry firm had informed the local authority on October 27 2023 that it could not fulfil the contract “due to other work commitments”.

A total of eight bids were submitted for the scheme, but it’s understood that several of the tenders were “excessively over budget”.

Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council (LCCC) has also confirmed that the scale of the ice bowl project has been downscaled in response to the rising build costs.

It’s understood that a healthcare centre and adventure play area, which originally featured in the proposal, have been dropped.

LCCC granted planning approval for the ice bowl redevelopment in September 2023, agreeing to invest £52m in the project.

A further £12.5m has been pledged by the Department for Levelling Up in London.

Heron Bros was announced by LCCC as the successful bidder in early January 2024, just weeks after the south Derry firm was forced to pull out of the Casement Park project.

The Draperstown company was awarded the stadium contract in 2013 following a successful joint bid with English firm Buckingham.

That bid ended late last year after the Buckingham Group collapsed into administration.

A spokesperson for LCCC confirmed the agreed capital works contract for the Dundonald Ice Bowl is now £55m.

“Due to market volatility, the original tender submissions received in 2022 were higher than expected.

“The project was re-engineered to ensure that it was in line with the financial appraisal and budgeted costings whilst maintaining key components of the facility such as the Olympic size ice rink and 100-station gym.

“The indoor play area was removed as part of the reconsideration.”

According to the tender award notice published online, the contract “was awarded on the understanding that with the conclusion of a further clarification exercise there will be a consequential contractual amendment, with Heron Bros Ltd, to make the project economically viable for the council”.

A spokesperson for LCCC said: “The project will remain under close review during the construction phase and any impact on cost will be considered carefully.”

The contract is expect to involve a 30 month build, which is due to be completed in the Autumn of 2026.