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Councillors to discuss Basingstoke Leisure Park and Aquadrome community engagement

News release 10093, published on 12 Jan 2022
How the public will be encouraged to give their views on developing a sustainable future for Basingstoke Leisure Park and what facilities a modernised Aquadrome could provide will be discussed by councillors next week.

Basingstoke Leisure Park, which was mostly developed in the 1980s and 1990s, belongs to Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council. But most of the facilities there are owned on long leases by other landlords and operators. The Aquadrome is directly owned and run on behalf of the council through the Basingstoke and Community Leisure Trust.

Next Wednesday (19 January) the Community, Environment and Partnerships Committee will discuss how users of the current facilities, residents, community groups, tenants and others with an interest in the park will help to shape the masterplan for the park’s long-term future and the proposals for a modernised Aquadrome.

A team of experts has been appointed to advise the council on the future opportunities presented by the potential re-development, with multidisciplinary architecture and urban design practice BDP working on a masterplan, as well as leisure specialists FMG looking at the most viable mix of facilities to be provided by the Aquadrome.

To develop the masterplan, the team is talking to operators and leaseholders to understand their vision for the future of their facilities, as well as looking at what development could sit alongside this and how the environment of the leisure park could be improved.

The work follows the end of a development agreement with NewRiver, which would have seen £300 million of investment in the park, improving the leisure facilities there together with creating a designer outlet centre. The profound impact of COVID-19 on the leisure and retail sectors meant the proposed plans became unviable.

Cabinet Member for Finance and Major Projects Cllr John Izett said: “The leisure park is a signature facility of the borough enjoyed by so many of our residents and their families. It needs to be re-envisaged and updated for the 21st century. We are moving forward at pace with work to plan for its long-term future, including what facilities should be offered in the modernised council-owned Aquadrome.

“We are considering the most appropriate options in a post-COVID world to provide facilities for residents and visitors, and to fit in alongside the evolving town centre strategy and the local plan update. Rather than the comprehensive redevelopment proposed by NewRiver, the revised proposals will be delivered in a more organic and gradual phased approach, over a number of years. A designer outlet centre is no longer part of the way forward because of the huge changes affecting the market.

“We want to move at pace but it's important we get it right and that the community is involved in shaping the proposals from the earliest stage. We will engage with councillors, existing leisure park operators, leisure park users, our residents and specialists in the leisure industry on the best way forward.”

The first round of engagement is planned for mid-February, with a public online update sessions, followed by a consultation survey.

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