Even if the developer Seven Capital doesn’t ever finish the Snow Centre it agreed to build in Swindon, the borough council has no powers of redress if preliminary work has been done.

That is one of the revelations contained in an agreement between Swindon Borough Council and Seven Capital, made in 2017.

Discussions were underway between the council and the development company about getting an indoor ski slope snow centre and entertainment centre built on the site of the old Claires factory in North Star.

In return for the £270m snow centre, Seven Capital were to receive long leases on four parcels of land, on three of which they could build flats – more usually the company’s specialism.

The agreement said the deal ould not be terminated if piling work - digging and laying the foundations for the building - was completed by March 2022. That deadline has since been extended to 2024.

READ MORE: £270m 'Snoasis' deal could be OFF if work doesn't start in two years

But if Seven Capital does manage to get that work done the company doesn’t have to actually finish the snow centre before it builds houses, or just abandons the project. And Swindon Borough Council would have no comeback.

A note to council leader David Renard and the then cabinet member for finance and commercialisation Russell Holland said: “Once Seven Capital (Swindon North) carry out the piling works for the leisure development they are at liberty to develop out the site at their absolute discretion, without the council’s consent, subject only to planning [consent].

“Once the piling works have been carried out the council can no longer terminate the development agreement and the leases regardless of any breach on the part of SCSN.”

The note spells out the lack of control the council would have under the agreement. Even if the snow centre is less than half built, the council is not able to get the site back under its control: “If SCSN do not proceed beyond piling works and do not build the leisure development by 2022 as required the council cannot terminate the development agreement and the leases, and will not be able to recover any of the land from them.

“The same thing applies if SCSN build only some of the elements of the leisure development but do not deliver the rest.”

Another clause says that Seven Capital ought not build houses before or without building the snow centre saying if that happened “it would be a departure from the terms of procurement and the requirement of the development agreement that development on site will be ‘primarily leisure’".

However, it had already been established that as long as piling work had been completed by the deadline day the council could not terminate the agreement “regardless of any breach on the part of SCSN.”

Since the agreement was made The Oasis leisure centre, also owned by Seven Capital on a long lease, has closed and has been listed, which the company says has hampered efforts to redevelop the building as a new leisure centre.

There has also been two years of Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions.

A spokesman for Swindon Borough Council said: “The North Star development agreement was drafted to set out how a leisure scheme would be brought forward on the site.

"Unfortunately, the pandemic badly affected the leisure sector, as we have seen first-hand with the closure of the Oasis.

“We are working hard with Seven Capital on the Oasis and North Star site and exploring all options.

"The current priority is to ensure we find a way forward for the Oasis now that it has been listed because any solution needs to ensure the leisure centre is both financially viable and sustainable in the long term.”

There has previously been concern among opposition councillors about whether Seven Capital might intend to build houses on the land they have been given leases for without delivering the snow centre.

Questioned in 2019 by the now leader of the Labour group on the council Jim Robbins, the then cabinet member for the town centre Dale Heenan said: “It’s a red line in the agreement with Seven Capital.

"There will be no houses before construction on the snow centre.”