Could this be the future of The Oasis?

By Jamie Hill - 16 March 2021

CommunityClubs & Activities

Swindon Borough Council has released an architectural drawing of the new multi-million pound SevenCapital plan to transform The Oasis into a regional waterpark. But they have warned that the plans could be scuppered if an application to Historic England to give the site listed status is approved, a claim that is disputed by the Save Oasis Swindon campaign.

This comes after GLL announced in the Autumn that the current facility would not be reopening after lockdown.

The building is now in the control of developers SevenCapital who have taken the lease back from GLL.

A campaign was launched called Save Oasis Swindon to ensure that the much-loved facility reopens.

Swindon Borough Council is working closely with SevenCapital to secure the future of the much-loved leisure centre for decades to come and this CGI image shows how it could be transformed into a regional waterpark facility.

Detailed proposals are currently being drawn up, which would see a masterplan created for the surrounding site with a significantly improved Oasis forming the centrepiece of the development.

Despite this, an application to Historic England to grant the leisure centre listed status could scupper any hope of giving the Oasis a sustainable future.

Councillor David Renard, Leader of Swindon Borough Council, said: “I would like to assure residents we are doing all we can to give the Oasis a sustainable future because it is an iconic leisure venue and has brought so much joy to local residents and visitors alike over the past four decades.

“However, its age is part of the problem as it needs many millions of pounds spent on it to modernise it and make it viable.

“We have been working closely behind the scenes with SevenCapital, who have a long lease of the Oasis, to come up with a plan to get the leisure centre back open and this CGI image shows how the Oasis could be brought right back up to date and attract people from far and wide into our town. All that will be in vain if this listing application is successful.

“We have made joint representations with SevenCapital to Historic England to ensure the modernisation of the Oasis can take place so future generations can continue to enjoy it for many years to come.”

SevenCapital, said: “We are deeply committed to coming up with a resolution and long-term viable solution for the Oasis.

“We have made good progress and we believe with considerable investment and continued support from Swindon Borough Council we can turn the Oasis into a major leisure attraction once again.

“The biggest threat at present to this is the potential for its listing following an application to Historic England. The reason for this is that the centre needs considerable work and investment.

“Should it become listed then, unfortunately, the very thing that intends to save the Oasis will actually become the reason for its permanent demise as it would prevent the necessary works being carried out.”

A spokesman for Save Oasis Swindon said: “The people of Swindon are not daft and will take Swindon Borough Council’s latest Oasis statement with a pinch of salt. You only have to look at the failed Snow Dome ‘Snowasis’ project which was spoken about for years, but not one brick was laid. Swindon residents are sadly now accustomed to promises and seeing grand computer-generated plans which never materialise across this town.

“The new image of the ‘refurbishment’ is actually a destruction of the history of the Oasis. Where is the iconic dome? How is this a refurbishment?

“Historic England reassured MP Robert Buckland very recently in discussions, that if the Oasis becomes a listed building, then they will work with him and any developer to make sure that a renovation can happen. This was posted on Robert Buckland’s own Facebook page on 16th February 2021.

“So why are the Council continuing to suggest that approval of the listing application will scupper refurbishment, resulting in the permanent demise of the Oasis? Why don’t they reach out to Historic England and work with them in a constructive way? We fear that the listing could be used as a get out card for both Seven Capital and Swindon Borough Council, if they don’t find a way forward. That is unacceptable.

“The age of the Oasis is only forty-five years old, which is nothing when you compare it to the age of the Health Hydro. The age of the Oasis is used to disguise the lack of maintenance seen during the past few years. Seven Capital allegedly spent £10m on the Oasis – where exactly did this money go, and why does it need more? It all boils down to poor management. Swindon Borough Council still own the Oasis, so why haven’t they come down on the leaseholder for failure to make the building viable? We shouldn’t have arrived at the point of permanent closure like this.  

"The Council’s statement today does not offer clarity or clear timelines of progress of when the Oasis will be refurbished and reopened. It does not offer a firm commitment, and that’s what the people of Swindon desperately want to see. Their statement is just a regurgitation of what we already know. The Oasis already was a regional waterpark facility, attracting people from Bristol, Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire. This statement by the council offers nothing new, however it explicitly suggests stop the listing.

“No one knows who submitted the listing application, other than it was from a private individual. But the listing application should not be seen as a threat, it is about time we protected our landmarks in Swindon from a continuing trend of abandonment. The listing application should not be a barrier to progress. The Oasis is an iconic building, and maybe now is the time that it got the appreciation and protection that it deserves. Historic England have also confirmed to us publicly, maintenance can still be carried out on the site, even whilst the listing application is ongoing.

“Communication has also been very limited and poor between the Council Oasis Task Force and our Save Oasis Swindon Campaign. Our high-profile Campaign has been a huge success, attracting both national and local celebrity support – including four Olympians, as well as Chris Kamara and Mr Motivator.

“Seven Capital and Swindon Borough Council need to work positively with Historic England, and come up with a solution which will save the Oasis, regardless of outcome of the listing. A lot more needs to be done. This is a very important facility for our town and it should be saved, whatever it takes and whatever obstacles are thrown at them. Using the listing as an excuse is just another of their standard ploys. Take a look at our towns neglect of our heritage, for example the Mechanics Institute and the Locarno.

“What we are all witnessing now, is the Conservative administration turning on panic mode as local elections near, and as our Campaign continues to gather momentum.

“The closure of the Oasis ultimately has a negative impact on mental and physical wellbeing across this town, and an especially profound effect on disabled users due to its unique characteristics and accessibility. We are now faced with an immediate future in which the young people of Swindon have no suitable swimming facilities once lockdown ends. This is a disaster for the people of Swindon. We hope that residents keep this in their minds when casting their votes in the upcoming May elections, please let your voice be heard.”

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