THE TALLEST indoor ice climbing wall in the world could be built at the Oasis as part of a £65m project to turn the run-down leisure centre into a regional leisure destination.
Moirai Capital Investments, a property developer specialising in leisure and entertainments, has been chosen by Swindon Council to refurbish the old centre and later provide other leisure facilities at the site.
The centre, which could attract up to four million visitors a year and create up to 1,700 jobs, is planned to include a hotel, a 5,000-seater indoor arena, an indoor ski slope and a water park.
Now Keith Williams, the cabinet member for leisure and corporate services, has revealed there could also be a 70ft indoor ice climbing wall, which he understands would be the tallest in the world.
Coun Williams said the UK has a handful of such walls, including at Covent Garden, London, and Manchester, so the facility would attract ice climbers from afar, while providing a chance for more adventurous Swindon residents to try something new.
He said: “I think it’s something fairly unique and hopefully we will see people coming from far and wide to take it on. And, at the same time, potentially investing in the local economy.
“It hasn’t got broad appeal, but I think there will be people who do come from further afield who would like to climb the tallest indoor ice climbing wall in the world.
“And while we don’t anticipate thousands of people coming to do it, it’s something that perhaps can put Swindon on the map in the climbing community.”
Coun Williams said the wall was not a definite yet, but it was something the developer wanted to include in phase two of the scheme, which would be on the adjoining former Clares factory site.
The news has been welcomed by, Richard Coupland, a climbing instructor at the Link Centre, whose rock climbing wall would remain under the project.
Richard, an occasional ice climber, said: “It would be incredible. It would be a huge benefit to Swindon as far as the climbing community and mountaineering community is concerned.
“A facility like that would draw in customers from the whole south west, the whole south east, especially if it’s rumoured to be the tallest one in the world, that would bring people in from everywhere. That would be an immense benefit to the council and to the people who live in Swindon.”
Swindon Council is finalising the site leases and staff transfer agreements with the developers, with the aim of the developer starting the project later this year by taking over and refurbishing the centre.
The whole project is expected to be completed in late 2014 or early 2015.