Discussions about possible indoor 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.

In February 2024, the council agreed an ‘in principle’ deal with Great Wolf Resorts to allow the leisure operator to progress proposals for the new attraction.

Great Wolf Resorts expressed an 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, an 18-hole adventure golf zone and a floodlit driving range.

What the proposals could 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 20 Great Wolf Lodge branded resorts in the United States and Canada, designed around family holidays. It also has planning permission to build a UK resort near Bicester in Oxfordshire.

As in Bicester, if a Great Wolf Lodge in Basingstoke goes ahead, 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 an estimated 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 would also 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, a new water and leisure complex to replace the Aquadrome and services for local residents.

Update on what is happening

Following the agreement of an ‘in principle’ deal between the council and Great Wolf Resorts, the next steps would see Great Wolf Resorts start negotiations with the council on a long lease for the land before the leisure operator can submit a planning application for the development of the site.

The site will continue to run as a golf centre until the development progresses, subject to getting planning permission.

Recognising the importance of the facilities currently provided at the golf course, the council is looking at land across the borough that could provide a good location for a replacement golf course. Further studies to test the feasibility of potential locations that could accommodate a new golf course will then be carried out.

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