Councillors have made a landmark decision to refurbish the listed buildings at Grange Lido and re-open the site to the public after more than 25 years.
South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) says the work will make the derelict lido site stable, safe and accessible, preserving it for the benefit of the community.
Meanwhile the council says it will continue to work with interested community groups to explore options for the future management of the site.
Welcoming today’s Cabinet approval, Councillor Jonathan Brook, SLDC’s Deputy Leader, said: “The condition of the lido site is now critical. Soon the buildings and some of the structures will be beyond economical repair.
“We cannot let that happen. Intervention is required to save this important community asset which is a valuable part of our heritage.”
Councillors have approved a “light-touch” refurbishment which will include landscaping and potentially a removable infilling of the pool, so as not to preclude any future use for the site.
The plans will also create a new multi-use public space for the local community and visitors, landscaping and public realm improvements.
The Cabinet decision still needs the approval for £2 million at next month’s meeting of the Full Council.
Cllr Brook added: “Over the years the council has remained open to suggestions about the long-term running of the lido site, including proposals put forward by the campaign group Save Grange Lido.
“We must stress that any interested parties must be able to demonstrate a robust business case, prove they are able to raise the additional funding required, remove any need for ongoing public subsidy and have the agreement of Grange Town Council.”
SLDC’s planning committee will consider planning approval and listed building consent will be required in order to carry out the stabilisation and structural repairs.
The district council says it will continue to work with the local town council, the Grange Lido Community Interest Company and other interested parties to secure the future of the lido site in a way that is sympathetic to its listed status.
“Refurbishment will be an important step forward which will hopefully lead to a solution which will be viable, sustainable and acceptable to the residents of Grange and the wider district of South Lakeland,” added Cllr Brook.
Phillip Bradby, the Chair of Save Grange Lido said: “We welcome SLDC’s statement that reopening a swimming pool is possible and agreement that SGL will now progress a joint feasibility study with SLDC. In uncertain economic times re-opening the lido would help revitalise the area and give a real return on the council’s £2m investment. Grange already has lots of beautiful parks and gardens; a properly restored lido would offer Grange and South Lakes something unique and valuable. There is huge support for a reopened swimming pool. In a feasibility study in 2013, commissioned by SLDC, 74% of respondents said they wanted to see a pool at the site. SGL’s petitions last year showed 18,000 people supported a pool.”
South Lakeland District Council plan to spend £2million on restoring the buildings at the derelict site. However, the plans do include filling in the pool.
Darren Milby of Save Grange Lido said: “We welcome SLDC’s investment into the derelict lido but are, however, clear that we oppose filling in the pool and turning it into a giant flowerbed. It would waste a quarter of a million pounds of taxpayers money to fill it in and a similar amount to remove it. We are concerned that any infill will cause damage to the pool basin and is unlikely to get Listed Building Consent. A lido without a pool is not a lido at all. No one would visit an infilled lido and it would soon become neglected. It would be a magnet for vandals and anti-social behaviour as has happened with other infilled lidos.”
Save Grange Lido Ltd’s plans include a 50m six lane pool, a heated 25m pool alongside a paddling and play pool. The complex would also boast a community space, restaurant, sauna, steam room and shop.
Earlier this month SGL were officially incorporated as a Community Benefit Society ‘Save Grange Lido Limited’. SGL were recently awarded a matched funding grant of £6265 by the Architectural Heritage Fund to progress its plans. AHF is part funded by Historic England which is the official body responsible for the country’s historic buildings.
The group are working closely with Wrightfield Pools who are experts in pool restoration and restored the hugely successful Lido Ponty in Wales. They have estimated the cost of the pool restoration and new plant at £1.2m. Save Grange Lido plan to raise funds for the renovation of the grade II listed pool and operate the facility without the need for council subsidy
Grange Lido was constructed in 1932 and remained open for 61 years until its closure in 1993 due to a combination of low usage and increasing operational and repair costs.