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Campaign to save Grange Lido is hotting up

Grange Lido

[A] petition to Save Grange Lido has attracted over 5000 signatures in just five days. Local authority rules state an issue can debated by SLDC’s full council if over 1000 local signatures are obtained.

Save Grange Lido, a local campaign group, who set up the petition, are putting the finishing touches to a business plan to present to South Lakeland District Council with the aim of restoring the derelict open-air pool on Grange Promenade.

The 1930s art deco gem, the last of its kind in Northern England, closed its doors in 1993 and has been slowly rotting away ever since, despite numerous revival schemes over the years.

Owners SLDC are planning on investing nearly 2 million pounds to save the grade II listed structure, however their plans do not include restoring swimming to the site.

Save Grange Lido, a diverse group of passionate locals, aim to change SLDC’s thinking by presenting an ambitious but robust and fully costed business plan to return the site to its former glory.

Pam Parker, who launched the petition and is on the Save Grange Lido Committee said: “When we launched the petition I thought it would take a few weeks to collect the signatures we needed but I was astonished to see the number of signatures rise so quickly. We reached the target of 1000 in just a few hours!

“The petition says: ‘We want Grange Lido restoration to include the swimming pool, and South Lakeland District Council to confirm that any option without a swimming pool will be ruled out” we hope this will get the council to confirm that they will not fill the pool basin with concrete as they are planning to do.’

“SLDC rules say that petitions with 1000 or more signatures must be debated in Full Council which will give us a fantastic opportunity to hear what the councillors have to say.”

In 2018 a Community Interest Company was established to find alternative uses for the pool site. They have ruled out swimming and claim public interest in retaining a pool has fallen remarkedly.

Phil Bradby, chair of Save Grange Lido, said: “this statement from the CIC is clearly not true at all. The interest in the Lido and outdoor swimming has never been higher as the incredible response to the petition and the 3000 supporters on Facebook show. Some councillors have also been saying that the last consultation showed that there was no local interest in swimming in the Lido but they neglect to say that the consultation didn’t offer swimming as an option! The consultation immediately before it which had a swimming pool in the range of options showed that 74% of people wanted it restored as a swimming pool.

“We think that without a swimming pool the Lido ceases to have any function and won’t attract visitors. It will just become a sad patch of concrete where a Lido used to be and no-doubt will become another council white elephant.

“Sport for England’s Active People Survey showed the huge increase in outdoor swimming in the last few years and other Lidos in the country have seen a huge renaissance and are booming. They say that swimming is still the UK’s most popular participation sport with 2.5 million adults swimming each week.

“Grange Lido has the potential to be the jewel in South Lakes’ crown and to attract visitors from far and wide. We are confident that our business plan can make the Lido economically viable and would bring excellent value to local taxpayers and swimmers alike.”

The plan acknowledges the difficulty of making a swimming pool pay its way in the temperamental UK climate, however, Grange Lido is very fortunate to have a good range of useful buildings which present excellent opportunities to generate income to cover the running costs of the whole facility. The imaginative use of these buildings is the key to the successful redevelopment and future of the Lido.

Our Vision

Our plans would see the complete restoration of the unique mushroom shaped 50m swimming basin. This would be the focal point and enable the Lido to become a regional tourist attraction and an important facility for the whole community.

Our plans are based on extensive research and in-depth studies of a number of successfully operating Lidos like the Jubilee Pool in Penzance, Bristol Lido and Reading Lido. In addition, information has been collected from other campaigns like Broomhill Lido, Ipswich and a range of local and national tourism and leisure industry experts.

The Plans

Studio Octopi Architects have very kindly prepared a set of plans to show how the Lido spaces could be re-modelled to create a viable modern facility.

Our new plans include a magnificent 3,000sqft cafe & restaurant, with a 1,800sqft terrace looking directly over the lido and out over Morecambe Bay. The cafe and restaurant building has its own independent entrance, kitchens and toilets, so it can operate all year round.

In addition to the pool facilities, changing rooms and lifeguard station there is space for a stand-alone 3500sqft spa and wellness facility. The buildings also present the opportunity for some holiday lets to bring further income.

The diving area has been re-imagined as a 708sqft bar function space with a 1700sqft roof terrace with breath-taking panoramic views.

Obviously, the centre piece of the plans is the historic mushroom shaped pool which is one of just a very few 50m swimming facilities in the north of England. This will be open for the summer months for general swimming and could be opened for one off swimming galas and events (like the hugely popular the Chill swim) outside the general summer season. The basin will be fenced, lit and managed so that it remains a dramatic focal point, even when not in use for swimming.

The Lido has historically had a large car park which was important for coaches and cars visiting the complex. Part of the Lido car park is still in use and we think this should remain available to the Lido in the future. The car park would be used much more than it is at present and could generate an additional income for the Local Council.

The plans make Grange Lido an attractive destination for visitors from across the North West.

The Setting

Grange Lido is located on the southern edge of the Lake District, in the immaculate Edwardian town of Grange-over-Sands with breath-taking views over Morecambe Bay. It is very well connected by road and rail, being a short distance from the M6, and is within reach of the north west conurbation which includes the cities of Manchester and Liverpool.

Some 3.5 million people live within a 50-mile radius and the Lake District attracts in the region of 40 million visitors each year. This catchment and the visitors to the region provide a substantial market for the redeveloped Lido.

Viability

The Local Council has earmarked £2 million for restoration of the buildings on site. Funding options for further restoration are being explored.

In 2018, a Community Interest Company was established, in conjunction with South Lakeland Liberal Democrats, to find new uses for the site. The company have ruled out swimming facilities. Save Grange Lido believe our alternative vision will be of greater benefit to the community of Grange.

Our plans demonstrate how Grange Lido can be sensitively restored to be an economically viable swimming and tourism facility. The new facility has the potential to draw visitors from a large catchment and to tap into the huge number of people who visit the Lake District each year. Previous studies have focused on the local market for swimming and neglected that fact that the Lido is a very rare and important historic building which could easily have a regional draw and generate substantial income from non-swimming activities.

These plans offer best value for local taxpayers and a real opportunity for the restored Lido to be financially independent. The revitalised Lido would create new jobs and bring significant economic benefits to Grange and the wider area. They would also provide an invaluable community asset, promoting health and wellbeing for people of all ages.

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