The famous dome at Swindon’s Oasis Leisure Centre has won Grade II listing – thwarting plans for its redevelopment.
Owner SevenCapital had big plans for a new centre at the site, north of the Great Western Mainline, which would have meant demolition of the dome.
But campaign group Save the Oasis has persuaded Historic England to list the dome and the pool within it at the 1970s development which has been closed for more than a year.
Historic England made the announcement on Thursday, December 2. The remainder of the leisure centre buildings are not included.
SevenCapital managing director Angus Michie said: “The decision to list the dome of the Oasis is disappointing.
“The dome is the key structural element that led to the closure of the Oasis in 2020 and as we have warned several times previously, the preservation of it means that it is now highly questionable whether the Oasis will ever reopen as a leisure centre again.”
Swindon Borough Council has said the authority, which had been working with SevenCapital on the new centre, will discuss the way forward with the developer. The council still wants a modern leisure centre but accepts the cost may now be higher.
Historic England’s statement reads: “The swimming pool dome at the Oasis Leisure Centre in Swindon has been listed at Grade II by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on Historic England’s advice.
“The Oasis Leisure Centre, designed by Peter Sargent of Gillinson, Barnett and Partners in 1974, opened on New Year’s Day, 1976. The swimming pool is the best and earliest example of the newly developed building type, which went on to gain huge popularity in the 1970s and ‘80s, marking the cultural shift from swimming for fitness to swimming for fun. Most of the early examples of these buildings have now been lost to redevelopment.
“The 45-metre swimming pool dome is an architecturally-striking and technically accomplished structure. Externally, it rises from a grassy bank, while internally, the aluminium space frame provides a dramatic setting for the pool and is well-suited to its use, having withstood the corrosive pool environment. While the glazing has been replaced, the architectural concept remains apparent.
“It was carefully planned by the architects to create a fun and attractive leisure space, and the key features of the concept survive, including the free-form lagoon pool with its sloping, beach-like approach, and the infrastructure for a tropical planting scheme. Its design remains synonymous with the early development of the leisure pool.
“The listing has been limited to include only the domed pool. The dry-sports side of the building; the waterslides, their launch tower and splash pool; the linking entrance block; and the service structures are not included in the listing.
“We will support Swindon Borough Council and the owner to address the condition of the building and to find a sustainable future use.”
Image: Roger Cornfoot / Oasis leisure centre
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