Listing the Oasis would delay multi-million pound refurbishment and possibly stop it from reopening,

That is the message from Swindon Borough Council’s heritage chief Dale Heenan to Historic England after moves were made to protect the town's iconic leisure centre.

The heritage quango has received an application to put the 1970s North Star site on the country’s list of important buildings.

That could mean it can't be demolished – but it does add complications when upgrading it. Every alteration would need a specific application and approval.

Councillor Dale Heenan has written to Historic England urging it to decline the building’s listing as soon as possible.

His letter says: “People are passionate about the Oasis Leisure Centre and its emotional connection to families learning to swim, but this building does not have special architectural or historic interest, and no part should be listed.

"Swindon Borough Council opposes the listing application and it is difficult to disagree with this view.

“It has never been held up as a nationally important example of a leisure centre. While we like to think it is a special building, there is no technical innovation involved.”

Coun Heenan points out the building has been altered significantly several times – the adding of three Domebuster slides in the 1980s, the filling in of the diving pool and replacing all the panels on the dome in 2014.

He continues: “Comparing 35-year-old water slides and eight-year-old polycarbonate panels in the same way to the Mechanics' Institute does a disservice to the buildings that can and should be protected, restored and enhanced.”

The rejection of a similar application to list the 1977 Coventry leisure centre called The Elephant is held up as a parallel and reason to do the same with the Oasis.

“I would like Historic England to seriously consider whether the listing application has been made to frustrate the necessary redevelopment of the site so it can remain a viable leisure centre in a well-meaning but misguided attempt to 'save' the Oasis."

"The Oasis is a late 1970s building that is in urgent need of investment. Everyone wishes to see it reopened after the pandemic ends, and there is a plan on the table to see this happen with a multi-million refurbishment so it has decades more of family enjoyment in its future.

"The listing application has seen a delay in these plans coming forward publicly since no-one knows what can or cannot be altered in future.

“Now is the perfect time for refurbishment to take place but the listing application means it cannot. The current operator, GLL, is in the process of terminating their lease to the centre because they lost more than £500,000 due to Covid and three lockdowns, meaning they only had customers for nine weeks in the last 12 months.

“All politicians and local residents are united in wanting the Oasis reopened, but no operator appointed by the landlord will accept reopening in two months’ time knowing that just a few months later it would need to close all over again to allow the necessary refurbishment to occur.

“Please bring this application to a swift conclusion so that the Oasis Leisure Centre can be modernised, and reopened.”

Historic England has not responded to the letter or a request for comment at time of going to press.