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

·3-min read
A CGI of the proposed snow centre and (inset) the Clares site as it currently looks
A CGI of the proposed snow centre and (inset) the Clares site as it currently looks

AMBITIOUS plans to build a £270m indoor snow centre in North Star could be scrapped if work doesn't start within two years.

But efforts to try and get the abandoned Oasis leisure centre open again may hamper developer SevenCapital’s ability to make headway on the entertainment complex planned for the cleared factory site across the road.

The developer is understood to have until March 2024 to have completed the piling work - digging out and installing the foundations for the building – or Swindon Borough Council could withdraw from the development agreement between the two.

Swindon Advertiser:
Swindon Advertiser:

Under that agreement SevenCapital will build the snow centre and has a 99-year lease on the site, which is owned by the borough council. The company will have another three leases on which is it believed to want to build houses.

The extension of two years to get the piling work done on the cleared site of the old Claires Factory means Seven Capital has been given a total of five years in extensions so far.

A complicating factor is that SevenCapital is also responsible for the Oasis - via a long lease from Swindon Borough Council awarded nearly 10 years ago.

The 1970s-built centre was closed in October 2020 for a Covid-19 lockdown and has not opened since. Former operators GLL said it could not make a profit running the centre as it is.

Although SevenCapital has lodged an application to revamp the centre but the iconic dome it wanted to demolish now listed by Historic England.

A spokesman for SevenCapital said: “The agreed priority with Swindon Borough Council is the Oasis - getting that back open and operating.

“But we are still working on the snow centre.”

Swindon Advertiser:
Swindon Advertiser:

Initial discussions between the council and adeveloper better known for flats than leisure facilities said the new snow and entertainment centre had to be built by March 2019.

That was extended to March 2022 - and the stipulation was relaxed. Instead of having to have the entire complex finished, SevenCapital was told it only had to have the piling work finished.

Planning permission was granted for the development in late 2018, but delays in getting the funding together - at the time ascribed at least in part to Brexit uncertainties - meant progress was delayed.

Swindon Advertiser:
Swindon Advertiser:

No actual work had begun on site until the Covid-19 pandemic began in early 2020, causing yet further delays.

The development agreement was amended again to extend the deadline for completion of the piling work until March 2024.

Council leader David Renard said: “We are in regular contact with SevenCapital on both the Oasis and North Star site. Our main focus is on SevenCapital’s work to refurbish the Oasis as it is important the leisure centre is brought back into use as soon as is practically possible.

“However, it has become clear the listing of the Oasis has significantly increased the costs of delivering a financially viable and sustainable building.

“Finding a solution for the Oasis is a priority and we will continue to work with SevenCapital to ensure all options are explored.”

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