Swindon Borough Council will submit an £8m bid to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund to help bring forward plans to reopen the Oasis Leisure Centre.
Plans to build a brand-new leisure facility on the Oasis site were submitted by landlords SevenCapital last year, but these were put to one side when the leisure centre’s iconic dome and swimming pool was given Grade II listed status by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on the advice of Historic England.
Following the listing, costs for refurbishing the leisure centre have increased tremendously and the Council has been liaising with SevenCapital on its plans to reopen the popular pool.
At present there is a huge viability gap in the cost of refurbishing the building and the Council will use the opportunity provided by the next round of the Levelling Up Fund to try to offset some of the large cost increase associated with the listing.
However, even if the bid is successful, it will still not be enough on its own to bring forward a viable scheme, due to the scale of the works that are required.
Councillor David Renard, Leader of Swindon Borough Council, said: “We have always maintained that reopening the Oasis is a priority for the Council and we have been in talks with SevenCapital to discuss ways this can be made possible.
“The listing of the dome and swimming pool has made that process extremely difficult as large parts of the original fabric need to be retained.
“Naturally, that has added considerable cost to the whole project and has made it much more complicated to add in the energy-saving measures which will make the facility more environmentally friendly.
“There are no guarantees we will be successful in our funding bid to the Government and we have to carry out a huge amount of due diligence with SevenCapital on its proposals before we can begin to take things forward. But we have to do what we can to give us a fighting chance of getting this important landmark back open for local people to enjoy.”
The Council is also planning to submit a similar bid to the Levelling Up Fund for the second phase of restoration work to the Health Hydro. Both bids need to be submitted next month.