Plans to reopen the Grade II-listed Oasis Leisure Centre in Swindon will be discussed by councillors on Tuesday (November 15).
The centre closed three years ago, following the first Covid lockdown when operator GLL declared it was losing money and needed capital investment. GLL subsequently surrendered its lease to site owner SevenCapital.
The listing thwarted SevenCaptal’s plans for redevelopment for a new 160,000 sq ft leisure centre across both the Oasis and the neighbouring North Star sites, which used to house the Clare’s factory.
Earlier this year, SevenCapital obtained listed building consent for a replacement covering for the Oasis’ famous domed roof and has been working with Swindon Borough Council on how to use surrounding land to help offset costs.
At Wednesday’s meeting the council will consider a deal in which SevenCapital refurbishes and brings back into use the Oasis and the council sells the developer the vacant North Star site and land around the outside of the Oasis for a minimum of £6m.
The proposal would be subject to SevenCapital obtaining planning permission, entering into a building contract, completing the refurbishment of the Oasis and securing a new operator to run the leisure centre.
Council leader Cllr Jim Robbins said: “This is really exciting news. Reopening a refurbished Oasis is one of our top priorities as a new administration and I am really pleased we have been able to bring this proposal forward with SevenCapital.
“The costs of bringing the Oasis back into use are considerable and we have taken a pragmatic approach when looking for solutions to cover the funding gap. This included accepting that the much-vaunted leisure destination earmarked for the North Star site was not going to happen.
“Cabinet colleagues will therefore be asked to use that vacant site to help give the Oasis a new lease of life. Residents can also be assured that this deal is predicated on the leisure centre’s refurbishment being completed before the regeneration of the North Star and wider Oasis site.”
Councillor Kevin Small, cabinet member for finance, said: “The Oasis has been closed for far too long and we are determined to reopen this iconic facility as soon as we can.
“We have worked very hard over the last few months to bring forward a credible plan. We now have a clear pathway for not only bringing the leisure centre back into use, but to regenerate this whole area over the coming years.”
If councillors agree to proceed, SevenCapital has confirmed work on a planning application, expected to take 12 months, will then progress. The refurbishment is likely to take a further two years.
Group managing director of SevenCapital, Damien Siviter, said: “We have worked incredibly hard to identify and develop a feasible solution that will satisfy everyone’s mutual goal, which is to see the Oasis reopened.
“Whilst it has been a very challenging task to work around the building’s listed status, we are now confident that the plan we are putting forward will provide the best course of action to be able to restore the Oasis and give it a new lease of life for generations to come as an affordable, efficient and robust community attraction.”
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