A history of the Lido since 1992
Following Cllr. Morrell’s article in the last Grange Now, we received a few letters calling for the site to become a pool once more. The ‘Save Grange Lido’ facebook group has been very active recently, so now seems a good time to look back at developments since the pool closed. (with thanks to the 3P’s group for the historical chronology)
Amazingly it is almost 5 years since I took on Grange Now. At that time (2013) a consultation exercise on what to do about the lido had just been undertaken when Viv Tunnadine was Clerk.
Since that time we have included articles about the Lido in 47 separate issues, and we remain as a local paper committed to helping promote development of the site. In October 2015 SLDC put out a press release that a pool was not viable. Then in December 2015 there was talk of Coastal Heritage funding. In January 2016 we reported on the public consultation for the Neighbourhood plan which received plenty of comments about the Lido.
We also published the news in February 2016 that 6 figure sums were being invested in the Ulverston ‘Coro’ by SLDC – so why not the Lido. We asked SLDC who gave us the following statement (dated 8th Feb 2016 from David Sykes)
SLDC is working to identify a scheme to address the derelict site of the former outdoor swimming pool. We acknowledge that finding a future use of the site has involved a number of approaches involving local people, organisations and advisers over many years. What is certain is that it is a challenging site, given its poor vehicular accessibility (for potential future users and for construction), its location on the edge of Morecambe Bay and its listed building status. Whilst these are constraints, we need to be creative in understanding how they may also offer opportunities for the site.
Then on 14th November 2016 came the news from SLDC that another study had been commissioned to determine Grange Lido’s future. This followed the findings from the report of September 2015 that a pool option would not be possible for the site.
Commercial property experts Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH), supported by Amion Consulting and IBI Group, were appointed in November 2016 to carry out the studies, with a brief to investigate options that are compatible with the Grade 2 listing of the site and that present a ‘sustainable, long-term, proposition that will create a viable community asset.’ Needless to say this study was at considerable expense, largely funded by the Coastal Revival Fund.
Judging by the letters we received there was a slightly weary ‘seen it all before’ sense of deja vu. The question on everyone’s mind at that time was
‘Is this another consultation just for the sake of it or does it herald the start of something actually happening, as opposed to just professionals earning fees by going through the motions?’
Many people have echoed this over the five years I have been here referring to repeated consultations at great expense with no evidence of action.
Grange Now reported that LSH (the consultants) were now seeking Public suggestions before the 19th of January 2017 and invited everyone to ‘have your say’. Should it be a garden, retail and cafe area, cinema, velodrome or an outdoor gym, Maybe an area for concerts, a market or a bird viewing station.
On the 19th of January members of the public were then able to visit Victoria Hall and comment on the available options.
So was it finally time for the Lido to be refurbished. After numerous false alarms over the years, SLDC’s press relations officer was happy to be quoted as saying…
”There is an absolute determination to get something done this time…There is a will and determination to see the lido repaired, made safe and publicly accessible….
The minutes from the annual town meeting in April 2017 referred to a clear direction of travel and aspirations of a 2019 opening (but not as a swimming pool)”
By the July 2017 issue, Grange Now were running an article about a structural survey being carried out by RG Parkins. The report was to be finalised late summer as the basis for the next steps for the site with the aim to bring the site back into public access.
Things seemed to go quiet thereafter for the remainder of 2017
Jump forward to February 2018 and SLDC put out a budget press release claiming “This budget includes growth items to invest in several areas including identifying money for key projects like Ulverston leisure facilities improvements and the Grange Lido project.’’
In April 2018 Councillor Morrell reported to Grange Town Council that
‘Bigger decisions are in prospect relating to Grange Promenade and Grange Lido. …. there has been much positive discussion between SLDC and GTC on these two big issues which, as the chairman of GTC has said, probably offer the best prospect of growth for our town which we are likely to see for a long time to come. The current aspirations are to refurbish the Promenade and to bring the Lido back into public use, albeit initially as a fairly basic facility. These two ventures will represent a very significant financial commitment by SLDC which will undoubtedly need support from our town, in terms of ideas and commitment.
In that issue of Grange Now (GN321) Cllr. Morrell reported that we were now in the ‘Last Chance Saloon’ with regards to the Lido and that SLDC needed to make funds available for work to start.
We followed this up in the May issue by identifying that ‘SLDC recently revealed that their reserves amounted to £14.556 million of which £7.883 million is earmarked. This leaves £6.723 million unallocated. With the Lido consultation ended some time ago we hope that some of the available funds can be put to good use to finally launch works on the Lido – a move that I am sure would be appreciated by many people.’
And so to our last issue in which Cllr. Eric Morrell announced the formation of a Community Interest Company. This provoked a group of letters from the ‘Save Grange Lido’ group, which has been extremely active over the last few weeks.
We have provided over many years a thorough, impartial and hopefully accurate report of developments as they have occurred. We as a paper take no view or opinion – our job is to report what happens and we take that job seriously as the Lido is such an important asset for the town.
So there you have it. It remains a long standing challenge, not only for the town, but also those who would have to fund any renovations. Thereafter there is an ongoing challenge of paying for whatever is created.
No doubt the Lido will continue to feature on these pages. My own hope is that the comments published by us and others begin to describe things that are actually happening rather than just aspirations. No doubt much has been achieved in 26 years in terms of consultation. But at the end of the day, actions speak louder than words. We have a raft of costed ideas which have been fully consulted on and discussed. The next step is to get money on the table for both an agreed renovation plan and ongoing management.
For the record and to the best of our knowledge this is what happened before I arrived at Grange Now
The Lido closes. The site is offered for sale by SLDC but without success. The Grange over Sands Initiative is set up to bring together local councils and Grange residents and groups. It identifies the Lido as a priority site for regeneration.
SLDC commission a study from Jedd Lonsdale consultancy into the feasibility of an information centre on the site. Geotechnics Ltd. are asked to investigate the structure of the Lido. They raise concerns about the quality of some of the concrete elements saturated by sea water and the potential high cost of restoring the pool: as an alternative, demolition of buildings and filling the pool and sea tanks is suggested.
Grange Town Council (GTC) propose commissioning an architect to draw up ideas for the Lido site. However, SLDC decline to support this and instead, agree to seek private interest in acquiring and developing the site; no such interest comes forward.
SLDC agree to look into demolishing the buildings and converting the lido site into a public space as part of the promenade.
An investigation into possible uses for the site produces no firm ideas. Eco Arc from York express interest in developing an ‘eco centre’ but this progresses no further.
2001 The 3Ps group (Prom, Pool and Public Art) is set up to develop proposals with council representatives, residents and local groups working together.
SLDC with the 3Ps group commissions a feasibility study for the Prom and Lido site from consultants Capita DBS to look at condition and potential with the pool filled to make a public space. Public consultation indicates public support for this.
SLDC accept the study’s recommendation to convert the Lido into a public space and agree to work in partnership with the 3Ps group. The overall Prom/Lido project is named Time and Tide and it is decided to bid for funds from the North West Development Agency.
Architects Austin Smith Lord, with urban designer Thomas Heatherwick are commissioned to draw up plans. The ambitious multi-million pound draft scheme includes several radical ideas, including a cafe building on the Lido site in the shape of a grain of sand. Public consultation prompts a variety of strong views, for and against. While discussion is taking place about the next step, the NWDA indicates that the funds are no longer available and the proposals proceed no further.
It is decided to make a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Parks for People grant scheme. As a consequence proposals have to be scaled down with more of an emphasis on conservation. The 3Ps group, with SLDC, drafts a Conservation management Plan including the principle of a public space as before. This involves the filling of the pool, demolition of at least some of the buildings and the restoration of the art deco features. A HLF grant is obtained to proceed to the next stage – sketch proposals
A report was produced by the 3Ps suggesting the establishment of a Bay Discovery Centre on or near the promenade.
2007/8 With a grant from HLF, the 3Ps commission and draft a scheme for the Promenade and Lido from Cartmel architect John Coward, centred on the creation of a multi-use and fully serviced landscape space. SLDC also commission a Grange Regeneration Study from Douglas Wheeler Associates and invite expressions of interest from private developers for the wider Berners Close area, including the Lido.
Private development consortium Berners Vision proposes redeveloping the bulk of the Lido site with a mixed business and leisure scheme, including a cafe/restaurant and garden space, walkway and viewpoints open to the public.
English Heritage lists the Lido (grade 2)
The Berners Vision project fails to take off and SLDC proposes to seek a grant from the HLF for a stand alone Lido project, leaving the promenade to one side.
Following public pressure for the restoration of the Lido as a swimming pool. SLDC commissions consultants NeoNow to investigate options, costs and feasibility; the results are published for public consultation including a display at Victoria Hall.
2015 SLDC concludes that a restored swimming pool is not sustainable and decides to investigate other options which are compatible with the site’s listed status.