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Now a cinema and bowling alley are in Oasis plan
SWINDON could have the UK’s longest indoor ski slope, a new multiplex cinema and another ten-pin bowling alley under radically revised plans for the £95m Oasis Leisure Centre revamp.
Moirai Capital Investments, which took over the centre in June, signed a deal with Swindon Council to refurbish the old centre and later provide other leisure facilities on the adjoining Clares factory site, including a hotel, an arena and indoor ski slope.
After a public consultation in November and discussions with architects and industry experts, the developer has revealed an updated masterplan, which is different because all facilities are linked under roofed spaces, rather than being separate buildings.
Moirai says it previously feared people might visit one facility and leave, so the integration aimed to encourage people to visit other attractions and make the scheme much more attractive for the retail and refreshment outlets.
The plans comprise the refurbished Oasis Centre, a slightly downscaled entertainments arena with seating for some 6,500, a 200-metre real snow ski slope with a separate slope for beginners and a fun snow area, a multiplex cinema, 10-pin bowling, plus a full range of restaurants, cafés, bars and leisure-related retail outlets, as well as a hotel, multi-storey parking and possibly an ice-climbing wall.
Moirai spokesman Bobby Rach said there had been an encouraging meeting with Swindon Council, at which the architects, Belgian firm SAQ Architects, and consultants for the scheme presented the new plans.
He said: “The changes reflect a fundamental reconsideration of how the various elements of the scheme work together.
“This scheme, costing some £95 million, will be a major enhancement to leisure and entertainment in Swindon and the south-west.
“The most striking change in the plans is the bringing together of the various elements of the scheme so that they are, effectively, all under one roof.
“We are confident that the revised scheme will become an important destination for leisure and entertainment, and will draw significant numbers of visitors to Swindon, with all the commercial benefits which will flow from that.”
Moirai has downscaled the arena from the 7,500 seats originally proposed, partly due to competition from Bristol, which hopes to build a 12,000-seater concert venue on derelict land behind Temple Meads Station.
Moirai has also said it was very unlikely the former Olympic basketball stadium could become Swindon’s arena, as it did not fit into the new integrated scheme and would be difficult to convert into a permanent structure.
The company said the cinema and bowling facilities were speculative and could be removed if there was no demand.
After a public consultation, Moirai plans to submit an outline planning application in June, with detailed plans for the arena – the first phase of new-build – following in the autumn, with construction starting in March 2014.
Coun Keith Williams, cabinet member for leisure and strategic transport, said: “I am delighted at the improvements Moirai have made to the plans having taken on board public feedback from the consultation late last year.
“This development will make Swindon the best indoor skiing venue in the country.
“Understandably there is a great deal of excitement surrounding the scheme and the leisure and employment benefits it will provide to Swindon.”
Refurbishment to be completed by end of year
THE charitable social enterprise Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) has signed a 25-year lease to take over the operation of the Oasis Leisure Centre from April 1.
GLL – the largest operator of public sport and leisure facilities in the UK – oversees the management of more than 100 public leisure centres and 12 libraries across the UK. All staff will be TUPE transferred to the new company.
The existing Oasis will be refurbished by the end of 2013. This will see a larger, 100-station gym installed on the site of the indoor bowls facility, new plastic panels installed in the iconic dome, the changing rooms and toilets refurbished, and the kiosk moved back so customers do not have to queue outside.
Bobby Rach, a spokesman for Moirai, said: “I know of GLL’s excellent reputation as operators of a significant number of leisure and other community facilities
“We are delighted that they have agreed to take on the running of the Oasis Centre. Oasis has been an iconic feature in Swindon’s leisure provision, and it is important that its future operation is safeguarded by being run by a company with such excellent credentials.
“The Oasis Centre will continue as a first-class provider of leisure and sporting facilities. Indeed, GLL’s plans involve considerable enhancement of some aspects, including the gym and changing areas.”
Mark Sesnan, managing director of GLL, said: “We look forward to managing the development of Oasis to launch a host of new facilities – everything from new fitness areas and gym equipment through to significant development of the leisure village to include an 6,500 seater concert venue and the biggest indoor ski slope in the UK.
“All with a view to maximising opportunities for the local community to get involved, leading to a sustained increase in sports participation.”