Spruce up for Lido ‘short sighted’

Campaigners fear lido will be lost if filled in

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Quarter of a century after it closed its doors the future of a lido on the northern edge of Morecambe Bay continues to cause controversy.

Built in 1932 the grade II listed Grange Lido is in danger of falling into absolute ruin, the pool’s pumping system is beyond repair and the buildings are empty shells.

“Light touch” restoration

Arguments over whether there is a future for the art deco relic have raged since its closure in 1993.

Owner South Lakeland District Council (SLDC), in a bid to keep dreams alive of restoring the venue to its former glory, has announced provisional plans for a £1.8 million “light touch” restoration.

The scheme would create five business units in buildings at the site, including the former changing rooms, while the pool would be covered or temporarily filled to create an open area suitable for events. Terracing once used as seating for spectators would be restored along with the art deco diving platform.

But the scheme has sparked concerns from residents. A campaign group, Save Grange Lido, fears the pool could be permanently filled – a claim SLDC disputes. More than 13,000 people have backed a petition for the inclusion of a functional pool.

Darren Milby, co-chairman of Save Grange Lido, grew up using the lido but insists it was more than just sentiment driving his desire to see it reopened.

“We do welcome the restoration of the buildings – it’s absolutely long overdue – but we do feel it’s just a bit short sighted,” he said.

Just five years ago there were serious hopes that the site could not only be spruced up and preserved but restored to its 1930s heyday, creating what would be considered one of the most gloriously situated open air swimming pools in the country.

In 2013 there were plans for a Heritage Lottery bid to restore the lido but the bid was never formally made.

Susannah Bleakley, chief executive of the Morecambe Bay Partnership, which works to help improve the bay area, had been involved in the incomplete push but believes the light touch model is  practical in an age of austerity.

She said: “Everyone wants to see Grange Lido restored. It’s so sad to see it in its current condition.

“It is essential swift action is taken before the structure deteriorates further.

“I think that South Lakeland’s plans are a practical and pragmatic solution that will secure the future of the building and bring it back into use so it can again be a place that attracts visitors from far and wide.

“They are cleverly designed, with the kidney-shaped pool maintained so that, in the future, the lido could again hold water and be used as a swimming pool.”

The group has also put forward its own business plan. The group wants a restaurant, gym and café at the site, open year round – in line with the council view. But the vital difference is that it wants to run the lido pool as a loss leader, open seasonally.

The group believes the lido could work alongside the likes of Eden Project 2, set for Morecambe Bay, to restore the area as a tourist destination in line with its Edwardian heyday.

A statement from SLDC said: “Several studies have concluded that retaining Grange Lido for use as a pool is not viable.

“Following public consultation, we are moving forward to restore the lido site in a way that is sympathetic to its listed status and to secure its long-term future as a sustainable community asset. This includes a temporary infill of the pool which would not preclude future plans for the site.”

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