Evolving Basingstoke Leisure Park plans
The council has been working with its development partner New River Leisure on proposals to provide improved leisure facilities at the Leisure Park in the future, funded by the private sector.
NewRiver is working on complex and extensive proposals to create new activities and experiences to double the size of the existing leisure offer at the council’s ageing 60-acre leisure park, together with a designer outlet village to create a unique new destination.
The current leisure park needs a major upgrade and investment. Using this investment from NewRiver we can continue to give our residents access to high quality leisure facilities, attracting residents to spend their money from elsewhere in the region in Basingstoke. The development would bring significant benefits to the borough in terms of new jobs, a boost for the local construction industry, increased rents and business rates, and attract new income into the local economy.
Unsurprisingly, this has been a particularly difficult period for the leisure industry and the COVID-19 pandemic has further impacted on progress on the leisure park redevelopment. This is on top of a significant legal challenge to the development agreement, now successfully resolved, that caused a 22-month delay.
NewRiver is currently working on updating its proposals to bring this major investment to our town in the current difficult economic climate and assessing what types of leisure will work best in future in a very different post-COVID world. This includes resetting the programme for submission of a future planning application.
This is a large-scale redevelopment, requiring hundreds of millions of pounds of investment and is very long term in nature. There is still a significant amount of work that will be required before a planning application can be submitted.
A development of this scale is a highly complex project, the delivery of which will need to be carefully planned. The council is keen to see updated proposals go back to public consultation as soon as possible in a COVID-safe way.
Aquadrome, Milestones and the ice rink
The borough council is the owner of Basingstoke Leisure Park but is not the owner of all of the facilities there, most of which are commercially run and owned.
Providing an updated Aquadrome, which is owned by the council and operated on its behalf, and protecting and enhancing the Hampshire Cultural Trust’s Milestones museum are specifically covered in the development agreement between the council and NewRiver. In the meantime the council is going to undertake repairs to the Aquadrome to ensure that the existing facility can continue to operate.
Under this agreement NewRiver is required to consider the long-term options for providing an ice rink in Basingstoke in the future.
The ice rink at the leisure park is not a council-run facility. It is leased on a long-term basis to an investor, Standard Securities, that in turn has a lease to the operator, Planet Ice. Running the ice rink as a business for 20 years, it has been the responsibility of Planet Ice to maintain it since they bought the lease in 2000. The council continues active dialogue with the operator Planet Ice and landlord Standard Securities to progress the repairs needed to the rink as soon as possible.
NewRiver’s redevelopment plans will not provide a short-term solution for the ice rink, but the company has consistently expressed its support for the retention of ice at a redeveloped leisure park including potential investment in the external refurbishment of the building.