The Save the Oasis Campaign: The story so far
A saving the Oasis timeline
A brief synopsis of how the SOS campaign has progressed.
About the listing application
Almost the moment the Oasis closed, Historic England received a listing application from an unknown individual. The SOS campaign does not know who this person is. They’ve tried to find out but data protection prevents.
The 20th Century Society also put in a listing application – but they were turned down as someone else had got there before them.
How the campaign unfolded
In the first instance the SOS campaign didn’t support the idea of listing the Oasis fearing it would impede renovation. They changed their minds on it as they understood that there how funding streams available ONLY for listed buildings. The Save Grange Lido campaign tweeted the group late March to give them information about funding streams for listed buildings.
Before that though, article from the 25th February edition of the Swindon Advertiser, reported that Cllr Heenan had written to Historic England asking them not to list the Oasis. He/Heenan said:
People are passionate about the Oasis Leisure Centre and its emotional connection to families learning to swim, but this building does not have special architectural or historic interest, and no part should be listed.’
Further to that, on the 18th March 2021 the Swindon Advertiser published comment from Council leader David Renard:
‘…the Oasis dome is at the end of its life – it’s time for a modern leisure centre’ and ‘I for one, will be keeping my fingers crossed Historic England does not grant it listed status because it is time to give the Oasis a new lease of life and many more families treasured memories.‘ And you can read my rather furious and impassioned response to that here.
All that was in response to a considerable amount of flak that SBC got on releasing this:
While all this was happening the SOS campaign didn’t sit on their laurels. They carried out extensive digging and researching to find ways to renovate the dome so it could be sustainable.
Towards the end of March the group had contact from two engineering companies, Studio Octopi and the Iceni Project. Both are experienced in restoring heritage swimming pools. And both were firm that the Oasis dome could be renovated by placing the roof panels with EFTE pillows.
Around this time the team also made contact with Mike Kirkman, director of Sports at Aston University and also involved with Historic Pools of Britain. It’s his belief that refurbishment is possible. Further, the fact that the Oasis has excellent access for the disabled, makes its renovation and saving vital.
In addition, the team’s diligent research and social media use brought to their Twitter door, Robert Guy and Otto Suarez.
Mr Guy wrote this piece about the Oasis for the Architect’s Journal describing it as the loss of a typology: ‘The loss of the Oasis would represent the loss of an entire building type which is both culturally and architecturally important,’ says Robert Guy, a partner at Bristol-based Arturus Architects.
At every step of the way the team have passed everything they’ve learned and discovered to Cllr Renard. They’ve also tried, many times, without success thus far, to contact Seven Capital – the lease-holders of the Oasis site.
Indeed, the team have tried – hard – to engage with the current administration about the Oasis but with very little response and no noticeable cooperation. Gaslighting is a good one word sum up of SBC’s approach to the campaign. Pathetic, party political posturing is another way of describing it.
Security and maintenance of the site
Between their own site visits and the ‘work’ of urban explorers (trespassers) and community litter pickers it became sadly clear that both security and maintenance on the site were less than adequate. Break-ins began to happen. This despite the team quite literally begging SBC/Seven Capital to do something about security.
Back in January the team asked for heating and ventilation to be operational to prevent structural damage. All fell on stony ground.
NOTE: WE WROTE THIS ACCOUNT BACK IN APRIL 2021. Since then the situation is somewhat improved and the SOS campaign now has a most welcome communication channel with SevenCapital themselves.
Read more about that here and for some context around it go here.