The company which was set to undertake a £300 million redevelopment of the leisure park has pulled out of the agreement.

NewRiver Retail was due to turn the council-owned facility into a designer retail village and a host of new leisure facilities, but a lengthy legal challenge and the Covid pandemic has led to several delays since the initial agreement was signed in 2018.

The firm approached the council to release it from the development agreement, on the grounds that it was no longer "financially viable".

Therefore, the joint decision was taken to end the development agreement without financial partnership for either party.

It plunges the redevelopment of the site into uncertainty - with the borough council’s cabinet member for finance and major projects Cllr John Izett admitting that the project is unlikely to see a large-scale redevelopment as previously planned without the £300 million private investment.

Cllr Izett said: “Dissolving this partnership is very disappointing as the development agreement offered the borough and our residents the prospect of extensive private investment to comprehensively regenerate the leisure park, bringing the latest leisure attractions, a designer outlet centre and a new Aquadrome, with accompanying jobs.

“But we recognise that these plans have been disrupted by significant events, firstly the legal challenge over procurement, successfully overcome, and subsequently the profound impact of COVID-19 on the leisure and retail sectors.

“The joint decision to end the development agreement allows us to get on with the work needed to put together new plans for our leisure park that are suitable and deliverable in a post-COVID world. It will be important to consult with councillors, other stakeholders and our residents on the best way forward. Even in this changed environment, our leisure park offers huge potential that by working together can be realised in a new plan.”

It was widely understood that the leisure park plans were doomed for many months.

In June, Cllr Ken Rhatigan, leader of the council, told The Gazette the leisure park plans couldn't come forward in their current plans, whilst last month, they were described as "dead in the water" by leader of the opposition Cllr Andy McCormick.

Additionally, both the developer and council refused to provide certainty it would go ahead.

Reacting to today's news, Cllr McCormick told The Gazette: "We have known about this [for some time]. We expected this for well over a year. The figures didn't add up. We appreciated the sentiments in trying to get £300 million in investment but the road to hell was paved in good intentions.

"We need to have an A1, first class, mixed leisure developed there. It has got a cinema, bingo hall, we have got the swimming and the ice. We could benefit from having more sports there."

He added there are tough questions the council needs to ask itself about the future of the town centre, and the leisure park.

Jamie Whitfield, Development Director at NewRiver, said: “We can confirm that NewRiver is withdrawing as the council’s development partner to regenerate Basingstoke Leisure Park, mutually bringing the development agreement to an end.

“When we signed the agreement in March 2018, it was against a different backdrop to now. Our plans were impacted by two separate events, both outside either party’s control. Firstly, the legal challenge concerning the council’s procurement of its development partner which went to The Court of Appeal, but whilst successfully overcome, did cause a 22-month delay. Secondly, the global pandemic which greatly impacted both the leisure and retail sectors. Regrettably, these events overlapped, leaving the delivery of the proposed plans commercially unviable.”