A major US-based leisure operator has expressed interest in bringing an indoor water park resort to Basingstoke, as one of the first in the UK.
The proposed concept of an indoor water park resort will be discussed in a meeting next Tuesday (7 March), as Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s Cabinet considers whether to progress formal negotiations with Great Wolf Resorts to sell Basingstoke Golf Centre as a location for the development.
Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council launched a national and international marketing campaign to encourage leisure attraction developers to invest in the Basingstoke Leisure Park, and as a result of this, Great Wolf Resorts expressed interest in the 27-acre council-owned site.
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 realized, 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.
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 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.
The site is currently home to Basingstoke Golf Centre, owned by the council and operated by the Basingstoke Leisure Trust and managed by Serco, alongside the Aquadrome and Tadley leisure centre. This provides a par-three nine-hole golf course, adventure golf and a driving range.
Part of the more detailed work and engagement that would be set in train by Cabinet taking an in-principle decision to sell the land on a long lease next week would be consideration of the need to reprovide these facilities elsewhere.
Even if the redevelopment 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.
The council’s Cabinet Member for Finance and Property Cllr John Izett said: “Interest from Great Wolf Resorts is great news for the borough and its residents. Having looked at location options across the south of England, it is awesome that the company wants to develop its next resort here in Basingstoke. A Great Wolf indoor water park resort in Basingstoke would bring some £275 million of investment, many new visitors to our borough, many good job opportunities and a material and long term for the local economy.
“This is potentially a double-win for the borough. It would put us on the map as a UK visitor destination, and, I would expect, attract the best, most exciting leisure operators for the new leisure park. Of course, these are early days and much detailed work is required including the company obtaining planning permission. I can confirm that our commitment to build a new council owned Aquadrome on the Leisure Park remains whatever the outcome. I very much welcome the interest in our borough from Great Wolf Resorts and hope residents will share this enthusiasm.”
News release from Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, February 2023