Campaign group calls for Oasis dome to be saved

By Barrie Hudson - 25 March 2021

CommunityAttractions

The dome of the threatened Oasis Leisure centre can be saved from demolition according to a campaign group.

The Save Oasis Swindon campaign has been lobbying for the reopening of the iconic Swindon leisure centre since the announcement last year that it would not reopen following lockdown.

Owners SevenCapital and Swindon Borough Council recently released computer-generated image of what appeared to be a new building on the site.

This prompted the campaigners to approach a specialist engineering organisation and ask how the dome might be preserved.

A spokesperson for Save Oasis Swindon said: “We have been told that the building is not energy efficient, as the pool costs £1,500 a day to heat. 

"We were also told by the head of Swindon Borough Council, Councillor David Renard, that the dome has reached the end of its life.

“We don’t think that Seven Capital have exhausted every option to preserve the iconic dome. The panels on the dome were only replaced in 2015, some six years ago. The previous panels before that were in place for almost four decades. 

"Questions need to be asked as to why heat-inefficient dome panels were installed in 2015. Fast forward six years, and now the developer is saying the building isn’t viable. We just can’t accept that situation.

“We were told that the current dome panels consist of single ply polycarbonate sheets, installed on the lightweight aluminium space frame. We were told by SevenCapital that they have a very low U value, meaning the pool is very poorly insulated and retains very little heat.

“As a result of this, we contacted an historical architecture group and they pointed us to some engineers who specialise in pool restorations. We explained the current problem with the Oasis dome. 

"To our amazement, they came back with a solution that would enable the iconic dome structure to remain.

“Company Iceni Futures suggested using what are called ‘EFTE pillows’, which are basically the bubble-type panels the Eden Project uses. 

"They said they would improve energy efficiency. They are lightweight, so the existing structure could support them. They told us they are a tried and tested solution and would work well at the Oasis. They even said that the pillows would replicate the appearance of the existing ‘bubble’ type panels, which were at the Oasis prior to 2015. 

"They confirmed that the EFTE pillows would be more energy efficient than the current flat polycarbonate sheets. Even solar cells could be embedded within them.

“They said the EFTE solution would have been available in 2015, so they imagine that the flat sheets were chosen due to cost, but at £1,500 a day to heat, it’s definitely a false economy.

“Iceni Futures promised to work with a structural engineer and the EFTE manufacturer to devise a custom solution for the Oasis. They would calculate the energy improvements and potentially the daily heating costs."

Save Oasis Swindon has forwarded its findings to the council and Cllr Renard to forward on to Seven Capital to consider. South Swindon MP Robert Buckland has also asked the council leader and SevenCapital for a response.

The spokesperson added: “More must be done to investigate ways to make the dome and building viable, as is, as people love the Oasis for what it already offers. The recent regeneration plan was heavily criticised and unpopular. 

"The Oasis is a symbol of Swindon and is a well-known, treasured landmark. The dome is instantly recognisable and well loved by Swindon residents and those further afield who travel to Swindon to enjoy the Oasis.

“We hope that SevenCapital take this exciting opportunity to work with Iceni Futures to see what can be achieved at the Oasis. This will enable preservation of the iconic dome structure, regardless of the Historic England listing outcome.”

The spokesman said Labour Group leader Cllr Jim Grant had been fully supportive of our plan to save the dome. 

 

 

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