A MAJOR project to turn the run-down Oasis Leisure Centre into a regional leisure destination will bring about 1,700 jobs to Swindon’s economy.
Swindon Council has identified a preferred developer that would refurbish the old centre and later provide other leisure facilities at the site, including a snowdome and an arena.
And the council is also considering an option to build a £4m pedestrian bridge that would link the Oasis to the town centre over the railway line.
Coun Keith Williams, cabinet member for leisure and corporate services, revealed the initial information ahead of the full details, including the developer’s name, being announced by the council on Tuesday.
He said the aim of the project was to restore the faded centre to its former glory, when the facility drew people from far and wide.
He said: “This really is one of those great moments we will look back upon.
“We are putting every effort in. An awful lot of time has been put into this to make sure that the elements around this are correct.
“This is going to be really great for Swindon in the same way the Oasis was years ago.
“The people of Swindon will have something to look forward to and they will enjoy when it arrives.
“As councillors we live in Swindon, we raise our families in Swindon, and we want what’s best for Swindon. Everyone is supportive of this.
“This is a great opportunity. This is a real win-win-win opportunity: Win for the people of Swindon, win for the developer and win for the council.”
The Oasis, in North Star Avenue, has a lagoon swimming pool with water slides and a wave machine, a gym, a sports hall, indoor bowling, squash courts and outdoor pitches. It also hosts concerts.
Just over a year ago, the council announced it was inviting companies to redevelop the crumbling site. Developers were offered the chance to either refurbish the existing centre or build a new one altogether.
Out of the 22 companies which expressed an interest, three were shortlisted to give presentations on their proposals. These were assessed on a point-scoring exercise and a preferred developer was chosen.
Under the outline plans, the project would take place in phases. The developer would refurbish the existing facilities by the end of 2013.An arena and other facilities would then be built on the site, with the snowdome expected to be operational by 2015.
Plans for Swindon’s own snow dome were first mooted in 2004, but the project seemed to fizzle out until last year when the council invited businesses interested in redeveloping the site to come forward.
If the centre is completed, it will bring about 1,700 jobs to the local economy, and the council hopes two-thirds of the users would come from outside of Swindon.
Coun Williams said the developer would initially lease the land from the council, but after the project is completed, the freehold will be transferred to a trust, which would have tax benefits.
He added that the council would pay very little for the project and would also benefit because it would no longer have to subsidise the facility.
The report detailing the full plans will be officially presented to Cabinet on Wednesday, February 15. The full council will need to approve the project.