South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) has approved additional funding of £1,793,800 to ensure restoration work on Grange Lido and Promenade can start before the end of March.
SLDC has been working towards making the derelict, Grade II-listed Grange Lido site stable, safe and accessible, as well as repairing and rejuvenating the promenade, which includes replacing the old promenade playground.
The work at the lido will preserve the heritage structures for the benefit of the community and see it reopen to the public after more than 25 years, temporarily filling in the pool to create a new multi-use public space for the local community and visitors.
The project will also encourage greater tourism to the Grange area and wider Morecambe Bay area, as well as protect the site’s immense social and cultural heritage in a way which doesn’t preclude the future option of bringing the pool back into use.
SLDC continues to remain open to exploring long-term and sustainable offers for the operating of the site as a pool.
Failing to re-purpose the site and undertake essential structural repairs that are urgently necessary for the preservation of the listed building would leave future administrations liable for even greater costs.
The total cost of the project is now £6.8m, which includes £4.9m for the lido and £1.6m for the promenade, partly made up of £1m from a £2.3m Coastal Communities Fund grant received jointly with Morecambe Bay Partnership to deliver a sustainable tourism programme around Morecambe Bay.
A meeting of SLDC’s Full Council last night unanimously approved the additional funding. Members heard that COVID-19, Brexit, the war in Ukraine, restrictions in energy supply and unprecedented cost inflation had led to a “perfect storm” whereby the cost of both materials and labour have risen exponentially.
These pressures have increased volatility in pricing, leading to increased stockholding, long waiting lists and tender price uncertainty, which is further exacerbated by material supply issues.
Job vacancies within the construction industry were also the highest on record, increasing labour and contract costs.
Also, additional works carried out on site including more intrusive on-site testing for due diligence, professional indemnity purposes and in line with the discharge of planning conditions revealed more accurate information about the deterioration of structures on site, leading to cost increases.
Councillor Jonathan Brook, Leader of the Council, told the meeting last night: “Clearly, this is a substantial amount of additional funding. However, this is a highly complex project on an iconic structure. This heritage asset is failing in several areas and a number of new issues have emerged during the preparatory process. It is unfortunate that we have to come back to council, but it is evident that there are significant inflationary pressures, particularly in terms of additional costs being borne by the construction industry.
“This is a significant and unique asset, which is recognised in Grange, around Morecambe Bay, across South Lakeland and further afield. It has been closed for 30 years and there have been a number of attempts to bring it back to life. On a recent site visit it was evident that the rate of decline is increasing and it is imperative we sort this now, so we don’t incur even greater costs in the future. This scheme will secure the site and allow public access and enjoyment and enable others to pursue the aspiration to re-water the pool in the future.”
Work on the lido will include an upgrade of the central and focal pavilion building to create flexible and adaptable space which will be an opportunity for a future partner to occupy and develop the lido for future alternative uses; creation of an accessible entrance design from the promenade; and the insertion of a removable landscape intervention within the former pool area. The male and female changing accommodation will be mothballed internally for refurbishment at a later stage, although will benefit from stabilisation works including the roof and terraces, security, cleaning and external decoration.
Significant structural and architectural works will repair the concrete terracing around the perimeter of the pool, including strategic concrete repairs to the diving board structure.
Following these construction activities, members of the public will have full access to the seating terraces that overlook the central pool space. The site will be fully secured at night via a sympathetic approach to reinstating the original red brick walls and gate running parallel with the promenade.
A new sub-station will be located on the land adjacent to the lido entrance, providing a suitable electrical supply and fibre/telecom connection for the scheme, and to support future development aspirations.
Work on the 1,900m-long promenade will include the removal of unstable sections of the sea defence wall; the application of a durable coating to the upper surface of the promenade; and a combination of pre-cast and in-situ concrete repairs to the upper edge “bull nose” and sea-facing elevation of the sea wall.
The work also includes connectivity works to link the promenade to the town; public realm furniture; signage; improvements to railings; and a new children’s playground area.
Councillor Robin Ashcroft, Portfolio Holder for Economy, Culture and Leisure, said: “The significance of a reopened lido site goes way beyond being a local amenity and indeed a major visitor attraction. It has the potential to be a key part in the jigsaw, around the area’s significant need to develop and diversify itself as a place,which can both attract and retain a high-skilled workforce to fulfil employers’ and the economy’s needs as South Lakeland District Council evolves into Westmorland and Furness.”
One of only four remaining listed coastal lidos in England, the 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. It is the earliest and most complete example of a 20th century listed seawater lido in England.