THE former factory site in North Star earmarked for a £270m snow centre and entertainment complex could be taken back by Swindon Borough Council if work doesn’t start on time.

Responding to an urgent question by labour group leader Jim Grant, council leader David Renard said there was a date by which work must start or the land – which was passed to developer Severn Capital – could revert to the local authority.

Planning permission was granted almost two years ago to the day. Seven Capital told the Adver in January – before the pandemic struck – that work could start in a matter of weeks, which would have meant an opening date some time in 2022.

But, so far, there has been no progress on the land.

The question was asked in the light of the announced closure of the Oasis Leisure Centre, just across the road from the site of the proposed snow centre site.

While the centre’s operators are GLL, a charity which trades as Better, the building and land is owned by Seven Capital – it acquired the site in the agreement for the snow centre development.

Coun Grant said: “This announcement will undoubtedly spark a huge public interest.

"Members urgently need to understand the facts and be appraised of the options open to the council, so they can respond to inquiries from their local residents.

“What impact will the closure of the Oasis have on the snow centre development?

“Is there a date within the land transfer agreement of the former Clares factory site to Seven Capital for the centres to be developed?

"If there is and it is reached without any tangible progress in the development of this facility, does the land return to council ownership?

The written answer from the council was: “The North Star leisure complex is entirely the responsibility of Seven Capital to fund and deliver. The council is the landowner only and no taxpayer’s money has been spent or is at risk.”

Coun Renard added: “There is a date. If piling work on the leisure box hasn’t started by that date, then yes, it would be possible to take the site back.”

The Conservative council leader said he didn’t know the precise date but would provide that to his opposite number.

Coun Grant asked whether the council could use its money to keep Oasis open but was told government funding to cover losses of income during the Covid-19 pandemic did not include leisure centres.

Coun Renard said: “The first priority is to work with Seven Capital about GLL’s decision.

He added: “The council are actively working with GLL in relation to the six leisure centres they lease from and directly operate on behalf of the council.”

Those facilities are the Link Centre, the Health Hydro, Croft Leisure Centre, Haydon Wick Leisure Centre, Dorcan Leisure Centre and Delta Tennis Centre.