An outdoor lagoon and concert arena at the Oasis and a 50 metre competition swimming pool at Link Centre are shown on plans for a major overhaul of two of Swindon’s much used leisure facilities has been agreed by Swindon Council’s cabinet.
To fulfil its Promise 22, to revitalise sport and leisure facilities in the town, the cabinet reviewed its vision for the refurbishment and agreed the outline plans to be taken out to consultation with sports clubs in the town over the next few years.
Justin Tomlinson, cabinet member for leisure, culture and recreation will form an advisory group of council members and officers to bring forward the master plan which should be ready by April 2010. He said that the group will be informed by consultation with sporting and recreation interest at Swindon Sports Council.
However Coun Nick Martin, cabinet member for finance and resources, said the refurbishment was likely to take at least 10 years. “Much of the funding will come from the disposal of council assets. The state of the commercial market in the short to medium term is not good which means we will have to wait until the funding situation improves.”
At the Oasis an open air lagoon area with a shallow fun pool, a galleon and water features will help increase capacity which now cannot cope with demand at peak times. With seating and catering outlets it would be a place for families to relax in the summer months. The roof of the existing internal pool, revolutionary when built over 30 years ago, will be replaced with one equally cutting edge, similar to the Eden Project.
The existing main hall could make way for a new arena for up to 5,000 people to serve as a concert hall and exhibition venue. It would be the largest in the area and suitable to attract international events and artists.
Whilst the Oasis will be the centre for recreation, Link Centre will become the focus for sporting excellence. Under pressure from swimming clubs in the town, the council is exploring how to build a competition quality 50 metre pool in a separate building next to Link Centre. An application for a pre-2012 Olympic Games grant is being considered.
Coun Tomlinson said, with swimming moved to a new facility, the internal layout of the building could be reorganised. “We’re looking at a single entrance whereby customers can access sporting facilities and the library which would reduce management cost and improve security. We’re considering a sprung floor for the sports hall, improvements to ice skating spectator facilities and perhaps moving the climbing wall into the space used by the present swimming pool.
“These are the kinds of detail we have to work out with the users and I’d encourage the swimming clubs and the ice skating fraternity, as well as other users like the climbers, to come to the Swindon Sports Council meetings to discuss how we move forward. It’s a very exciting time for the town.”