Discussions about possible water park resort

Major US-based leisure operator Great Wolf Resorts is in talks with the council to bring an indoor water park resort to Basingstoke, as one of the first in the UK.

Agreement in principle over land

The council’s Cabinet agreed on Tuesday 7 March 2023 to progress formal negotiations with Great Wolf Resorts to sell Basingstoke Golf Centre as a location for the development.

Great Wolf Resorts expressed interest in the 27-acre council-owned site after a national and international marketing campaign to encourage leisure attraction developers to invest in neighbouring Basingstoke Leisure Park.

The site is currently home to Basingstoke Golf Centre, owned by the council and operated by the Basingstoke Leisure Trust and managed by Serco. This provides a par-three nine-hole golf course, adventure golf and a driving range.

What could proposals involve?

Great Wolf Howlers Peak ropes course 340

Great Wolf raft ride 340

Great Wolf indoor waterpark 340

The proposed resort could feature a 500-bedroom hotel, an indoor water park, conference facilities, and leisure offerings including mini-golf, mini-bowling, ropes course, games arcade and selection of restaurants, cafés and bars, all subject to a lengthy planning process.

Great Wolf Resorts currently operates 19 Great Wolf Lodge branded resorts in the United States and Canada, designed around family holidays. It recently received planning permission to build its first UK resort near Bicester in Oxfordshire.

As in Bicester, if a Great Wolf Lodge in Basingstoke is realised, the resort would make day passes to its indoor water park facilities available to local residents. In addition to the day passes, there are a host of family-friendly attractions and eateries outside of the indoor water park that local families would be able to enjoy without being an overnight guest.

Potential benefits to the borough

The resort would be expected to attract up to 600,000 extra visitors a year to the borough, as a major new UK leisure venue, providing over 600 new, good quality jobs and bringing substantial economic benefits to the town and wider borough.

Developing the high-profile new attraction is expected to encourage other leisure operators to create new facilities and activities on the neighbouring leisure park and the town centre, by significantly increasing visitor numbers.

Selling the golf centre land would bring in significant funding for the council to reinvest in the regeneration of the leisure park, the new Aquadrome and services generally for local residents.

What happens next?

This is a very early stage. The Cabinet’s in-principle decision to sell the land on a long lease, allows more detailed work to start to develop proposals around the possible sale of the land and the creation of the new attraction, including engagement. This will include the consideration of the need to re-provide the golf facilities elsewhere.

The sale would be subject to Great Wolf Resorts getting planning permission for the site.

Even if the development was to get the go-ahead and gain planning permission, the site is likely to continue to run as a golf centre under the current contract until the end of December 2025.

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