Online engagement sessions on future Aquadrome and Basingstoke Leisure Park
The one-hour engagement sessions will give park users, residents and community groups the chance to hear more about the possible options, as well as an opportunity to ask questions. To allow as many people as possible to join, the sessions will be hosted through the website at www.leisureparkbasingstoke.co.uk on:
• Wednesday 16 February at 6pm
• Friday 18 February at 12 noon.
This is the first phase of public consultation as options are drawn up for one of the borough's most popular leisure attractions. More information and a questionnaire to gather feedback will be available via the website from Wednesday 16 February until Sunday 20 March. Recordings of the sessions will be put on the website and paper versions of the information and questionnaire will be available.
A team of experts has been appointed to advise the council on the future opportunities for the leisure park, with multidisciplinary architecture and urban design practice BDP working on a master plan, leisure specialists FMG looking at the most viable mix of facilities for the Aquadrome and property consultants JLL advising on market viability.
The well-used Aquadrome is a council facility, which is managed by Basingstoke and Community Leisure Trust and run by Serco. The council is considering replacing or upgrading it, so it remains a popular facility for future generations to enjoy, and how this can be funded.
After looking at gaps in what is currently provided and wider trends, proposed improvements for the Aquadrome could include a soft play zone, a climbing wall, a spinning studio, extra health suite facilities, a larger competition swimming pool with eight lanes, a learner pool, upgraded leisure waters with a range of fun activities and a larger fitness suite with more stations.
Although the leisure park itself belongs to the borough council, most of the buildings there are owned on long leases by the operators or their landlords. They will have an opportunity to input their own ideas for investing in new or improved facilities.
The redevelopment plans need to look at how the future leisure park would work together with the emerging plans for Basingstoke town centre, that could see an increased leisure offer there, and other proposals to link up leisure facilities, open spaces and heritage attractions in the area.
Cabinet Member for Finance and Major Projects Cllr John Izett said: “A renewed Aquadrome would represent a significant investment in Basingstoke and the health and wellbeing of local people at a time when other councils around the country are cutting back on their leisure investment.
“Our leisure park and Aquadrome are among the most popular leisure attractions in the borough, enjoyed by many of our residents and their families. But they need to be updated. As a council we are committed to finding the means to deliver a modern Aquadrome and better, more exciting and environmentally sustainable attractions at our leisure park. We are holding the online sessions to give people a chance to hear more about the possible options at this early stage. Through the questionnaire we are hoping to gather lots of views to help us reach conclusions on a new master plan that will make this a ‘must visit’ place in the years ahead.”
Early discussions with councillors about the master plan options have also considered if some additional development could make good use of the vacant land at the park, especially in appropriate locations near the railway line. To support and help fund the improvement of the Aquadrome and the environment of the park, all options are being looked at, including employment uses or even some residential.