THE future of the £270m ski centre planned for Swindon is hanging in the balance over an £80m funding gap, according to a council report.

It says developer for the North Star site Seven Capital still needs to find the huge sum in order to build the attraction.

And it says the company has only ‘one chance’ to secure that cash.

A report written in December last year and made available to councillors on Swindon Borough Council’s growing the economy overview and scrutiny committee this week says the authority had agreed to let timescales slip for the development to allow for funding difficulties.

It said large funders have been unwilling to put the cash up for large developments such as the snow centre nationally because of business uncertainty caused by Brexit. That had been previously confirmed by Seven Capital.

It added that the development company has been looking for a loan, which it would have to repay, rather than the more usual funding from a company that would then own the building when finished. It went on to say Seven Capital needed “£80- plus” of loans.

As a consequence, the borough council has given the developer much longer to begin work.

Originally, the agreement between council and developer said it could be terminated if piling works were not completed by March 13 2022.

That possible termination date has now been put back to 2024.

The report says: “This recognises that the scheme is at a critical stage and the variation is realistically the last opportunity for Seven Capital to secure finance for its delivery.”

A Seven Capital spokesperson emphasised the project is progressing, albeit more slowly that the company would like. They added: “North Star is a significant project and, as with any major scheme, timelines are moveable due to a number of factors.

“We are not in a position to confirm the start on site date however we are in positive ongoing negotiations and discussions with the council to ensure the project continues to move forwards delivery.”

Dale Heenan, the council’s cabinet member for the town centre, said: “The North Star scheme is massive and will cost hundreds of millions of pounds. As a result, putting all the pieces together is incredibly complex.

“The council is only involved as landowner, but I am determined we support Seven Capital as much as we can to deliver the development for people in Swindon."

“Of course, people will be cynical until there is a digger on the site, but we must not forget the positive details that have already been confirmed publicly."

Labour's Jim Robbins said: “It’s clear the Conservative administration is desperate for Seven Capital to make the snow centre happen. But it doesn’t seem to be able to do anything to put any pressure on the company. This is just dragging on with no visible progress.”