Swindon: Seven Capital and Swindon Council have ambitious plans for iconic Oasis Leisure Centre
This is how a newly revamped Oasis centre in Swindon could look if the money is found for its refurbishment.
The iconic centre closed in October when operator GLL said it could no longer make a profit from running it. Now the leaseholder, Seven Capital, says it needs millions of pounds in refurbishment money.
It's in talks with Swindon Borough Council, which used to run the centre until 10 years ago, about how to get it reopened.
The announcement of its closure last year sparked widespread dismay and campaigners have since been fighting to save the historic building.
An application has been made to Historic England to list the existing centre, which is yet to make a recommendation to the secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport.
But Seven Capital says listing the centre would mean the building would be difficult to demolish, adding time and money to its transformation proposals - which have been unveiled in a new CGI.
A spokesperson for Seven Capital said: “We are deeply committed to coming up with a resolution and long-term viable solution for the Oasis.
“We have made good progress and we believe with considerable investment and continued support from Swindon Borough Council we can turn the Oasis into a major leisure attraction once again.”
They added: “The biggest threat at present to this is the potential for its listing following an application to Historic England. The reason for this is that the centre needs considerable work and investment.
“Should it become listed then, unfortunately, the very thing that intends to save the Oasis will actually become the reason for its permanent demise as it would prevent the necessary works being carried out.”
The leader of Swindon Borough Council David Renard said: “I would like to assure residents we are doing all we can to give the Oasis a sustainable future because it is an iconic leisure venue and has brought so much joy to local residents and visitors alike over the past four decades.
“However, its age is part of the problem as it needs many millions of pounds spent on it to modernise it and make it viable.”
Cllr Renard added: “We have been working closely behind the scenes with Seven Capital, who have a long lease of the Oasis, to come up with a plan to get the leisure centre back open and this CGI image shows how the Oasis could be brought right back up to date and attract people from far and wide into our town.
“All that will be in vain if this listing application is successful. We have made joint representations with Seven Capital to Historic England to ensure the modernisation of the Oasis can take place so future generations can continue to enjoy it for many years to come.”
Local Labour group leader Jim Grant asked: “Where are the investors and operators to run this?
“I’d want to know whether the Oasis when it opens will be affordable to all as it was before it was shut?
“Will it be opened when the pandemic restrictions are lifted? If not, how long will it be closed for. Where’s the detail?”
He added: “We’ve heard all this before about the snow centre – but nothing has happened with that.”
Historic England has declined to comment on the application until it has reached a decision on whether or not to recommend the centre for listing.
The Save Oasis Swindon campaign said it did not want to say whether it wanted the building to be listed - but that it hoped the process was completed as quickly as possible.
A spokesperson from the campaign group described the new image of the possible refurbishment as "a destruction of the history of the Oasis."
"Where is the iconic dome? How is this a refurbishment?"
Credit: Aled Thomas, The Local Democracy Reporting Service