THE £65m overhaul of the Oasis leisure centre is a step closer after leases between the council and a private developer were signed.

The scheme, which will include an indoor ski slope, indoor arena and water park, will now press ahead after Moirai Capital Investments Limited signed on the dotted line.

Under the plan, the Oasis will be handed to a private operator on June 1 and be totally refurbished.

Work will start in the next few months and be completed in a year’s time. It will include the replacement of the dome and restoration of the leisure centre to its former glory.

A three-month consultation will now begin with Oasis staff as is law when a business is transferred to another company.

The overall leisure scheme is expected to create 1,700 jobs, including 400 full-time and 600 part-time positions, as well as several hundred other jobs through construction and other activity associated with the development.

It is anticipated it will be a major boost to the economy as projections have estimated it will attract up to 4m visitors a year.

The council entered into an agreement with Moirai after granting four long-term leases covering the Oasis and the former Clares site. If key targets are not met, the council has the right to take back the leases. It has also agreed it will receive an income stream for granting the leases.

Under the terms of the agreement, a planning application for a master plan of the former Clares site opposite the Oasis, would be required within two years of the lease being granted. Detailed applications would then be submitted for each individual phase.

Moirai have confirmed they have firm interest from potential operators for 60 per cent of the site.

Coun Keith Williams, Swindon Council’s Cabinet Member for Leisure and Corporate Services, said: “The signing of the leases is a major step forward in our plans to turn Swindon into a major leisure destination.

“This leisure scheme is really exciting for the whole town and will really put us on the map. I look forward to seeing the development progressing over the coming months.”

Martin Barber, who is leading the Moirai development, said: “We are ready to press forward enthusiastically with the first phase, the refurbishment of the Oasis. We have already plans in hand for the replacement of the Dome and the refurbishment of the changing accommodation. Over the coming 12 months, we shall be undertaking a significant facelift of the centre to ensure that it returns to a facility of which Swindon can be proud.

“In terms of the further developments on the other areas of the site, we shall shortly be able to make some significant announcements about our proposals to position Swindon as the major leisure and entertainment destination for the south west.

“All this will be undertaken with consultation with both the council and local residents, and we shall be launching a website to ensure that there is access to information on what is proposed and any opportunity for feedback.”