Grange Lido development: Your questions answered
9 April 2019
Q: What do you mean by 'light touch refurbishment'?
A: New proposals for the site went on show in early 2017 where Grange residents and businesses were asked to comment on a number of different options and potential uses for the site.
The preferred option outlined for the site was a ‘light touch refurbishment’ scheme that would ensure the site is structurally sound, brought back in to public use with opportunities for community groups and entrepreneurs to take on the newly refurbished units.
At Full Council in February 2019, £2 million of capital funding was committed to preserve the site.
Our proposed ‘light touch refurbishment’ will create access to the whole site for the public, and once again re-establish this iconic heritage site as part of the popular promenade, preserving this asset for generations to come.
While we appreciate that £2 million does not necessarily sound like a ‘light touch’ scheme, this is in comparison to incurring prohibitive costs, such as wholescale replacements of structures on site or reinstating a functional swimming pool.
Q: How does this reflect the views of Grange residents?
A: In the most recent consultation, approximately 500 residents viewed the proposed options on show at Victoria Hall over a three week period and responded separately with their thoughts.
The comments from the majority of the public who responded to the consultation were that they wanted the site preserved, not letting it deteriorate any further, and to allow public access once again.
Preferred option responses were: demolish buildings (22%), viewing areas (14%), 'light touch' renovation (57%) and other preference (7%).
A total of 359 people gave a response on potential uses of the site, which were: holiday lets (12), wellbeing centre (20), art space (53), cycle hub (37), activity park (56), outdoor events (63) and education space (35).
Twenty-one other uses were suggested including leisure use, pub, viewing platform, museum, market, small business hubs, drama space, splash park, retail units, community hall and sand pits. Only four suggestions included a pool, one of which was for sealife.
Q: What is the minimum intervention needed to preserve the site?
A: Our most recent costings for stabilising all structures on site would be in the region of £1.3 million.
This is the minimum investment needed in the site to make the structures, including the sea wall, stable and safe, and minimise any further deterioration and degradation. This would not allow access for the wider public to the site, however, as there would still be a number of risks associated with accessing the site.
An additional £700k investment would allow us to refurbish the buildings for access and bring them up to a standard so that they might be put back in to use, make all areas of the site open to the public including the iconic diving platform, along with access to the vast majority of the site for those who are less mobile, and open up views to across Morecambe Bay from the terraces along the perimeter of the site.
This would also including a temporary infill of the pool with materials that could be removed at a later date, should funding and a viable business case for a pool be determined in the future.
The ‘light touch’ scheme of this magnitude would likely take upwards of 12 months to complete, and time is of the essence as structures on site are deteriorating. We cannot risk leaving the site any longer as any partial or full collapse of structures will inevitably cost more money and could lead to complete loss of parts of the site.
This is not an easy site to work on due to access restrictions, proximity to the railway and heritage constraints, therefore any estimates need to include a contingency budget that helps to cover significant risks of working on this site.
The structures that will be repaired include all buildings, the pool basin, the sea wall, the terracing and sea tanks that sit under the diving platform and terraces.
Q: Why are you spending £2 million on the facility?
A: Following an application from a private individual, the site was listed in 2011. As a result we have an obligation as the custodian and owner of the former lido site to preserve the structures and heritage features on site, so that any repairs are in line with the heritage listing.
We have spent a considerable amount of time consulting with heritage stakeholders and the community to ensure that designs are sympathetic to the important heritage structures on site, in the hopes of preserving this site for generations to come.
The promenade is one of Grange-over-Sands’ most celebrated assets, and the former lido in its current state is a blight on the promenade and, by extension, the town. With our scheme, the site will once again be accessible to the public, and can serve as a community hub of activity on the promenade, to complement the cafés and recreation facilities on the promenade.
The site is not easily accessible due to its location being a distance from Grange-over-Sands town centre (20-25 minute walk from Main Street car park), across the Furness Line, and along the promenade. It is approximately one mile from Grange-over-Sands railway station, which can be reached along the promenade from the site.
Q: Are you proposing to infill the pool with concrete?
A: No. We are not proposing to carry out any works that might preclude any future uses of the site, for example, if reinstating the pool became a viable business option.
Q: So is the pool a viable option?
A: In 2014, we researched the option for the outdoor pool restoration, and a feasibility study was commissioned to determine how viable an outdoor pool would be.
We concluded that the pool would need a significant subsidy over the first few years of operations. The income and usage figures were seen to be a best-case scenario, with a contingency budget included. There was a clear possibility that we might be left with an ongoing liability. The 2014 figures were scrutinised and the project was deemed to represent a substantial risk. In the current economic environment, it would have been irresponsible of us to take this risk.
The guidance on financial sustainability within the Sport England Design Guidance Notes on Swimming Pools (2013) asserts that “even the best designed public pools are likely to be run on a subsidised basis and it is important to consider the long-term financial sustainability from the outset”.
We are concerned with the economic viability in pursuing a scheme that includes a pool that could lead to potentially subsidising an estimated £6 million capital project (based on 2013 figures including an inflation uplift) with taxpayer’s money that may well need ongoing public subsidy.
In effect, one bad summer (weather and/or usage and uptake), or unforeseen expenditure, could decimate an already unviable scheme, leading to uncapped public subsidy and little protection for us at a time when our budgets are already under pressure.
Q: When the light refurbishment is completed, can it be converted into a pool in the future, if the money is available?
A: Yes. This would of course be subject to a significant, additional capital investment, a robust, viable business plan, and protection against future liabilities for ourselves.
Any materials used in the light touch refurbishment will not compromise the pool basin and structure, both of which would have significant stabilisation works carried out during the light touch refurbishment construction phase.
We are progressing with our technical design of the site, and are keen to release more details when we have them available so that residents are fully informed of the plans. This includes a detailed timescale of works once we have appointed a firm to lead on the construction project, proposed materials for the site, and further community engagement opportunities with the site.
Q: What are the views of Grange Town Council?
A: In March 2018, Grange Town Council considered our proposal for refurbishment of the former lido site, and members voted unanimously that the town council, on behalf of the community, supports the project in its entirety.
This was followed by an additional supportive resolution in December 2018, as an updated and more refined scheme was presented to Grange Town Council to consider.
Grange Town Council is supportive of a facility that is inclusive and fully accessible for the community, and, much like ourselves, have concerns around the long-term viability of a pool.
Grange town councillors, along with elected representatives for Grange at district and county level, including current and former elected members and cross-party representatives, have been consulted throughout the duration of this project, and advice has been taken from both the elected representatives and via the public consultation as to the preferred option for the site and the community.
Q: How will you avoid the area being a continued drain on SLDC finances?
A: The stabilisation project will ensure the site is preserved for the future, and we believe the additional internal refurbishment and external landscaping will allow the site a new lease of life, without precluding any additional development if someone comes forward with a robust and viable business plan.
This approach offers a low risk future for the former lido site. By stabilising all structures on site, a maintenance strategy will be created, and with a significant capital investment, ongoing maintenance costs will be minimal.
By allowing for the buildings to be used, leased, re-purposed and open to the public, there is potential to generate an income from these rentals. This modest revenue can then be used to cover any small scale maintenance requirements and any reactive maintenance works.
Indeed, a non-profit community group, Grange Lido Community Interest Company (CIC), has already expressed an interest in providing the management of the site. Their business plan is being prepared.
Q: Can you build a new bridge?
A: We are not actively pursuing a replacement to the former footbridge that was once sited from Berner’s Close car park to the former lido site. There is significant additional costs associated with the delivery of a new bridge over the railway line.
Q: What is the plan for Berner's Close car park?
A: Berner’s Close car park and the former nursey site to the bottom end of the car park are allocated in our Local Plan for mixed use developments (housing and employment).
We recognise the need for extra care housing in the district, and through the Grange-over-Sands Neighbourhood Plan (2018), any future developments on the car park site may be of this nature, subject to viability assessment and ongoing demand and supply of extra care housing.
This piece of land cannot be brought forward for development until a long-term solution is achieved for the former lido site. Due to severe access restrictions to the former outdoor pool, the car park on the opposite side of the Furness Line acts as an obvious site compound for what could be at least 12 months construction project.
Getting materials on site to enable the refurbishment will be restricted due to trains operating on the Furness Line, so it is envisaged that part of the car park will be used to enable better management of construction deliveries. We will of course seek to minimise any disruption to local residents and the community of Grange-over-Sands, and communicate regularly with residents on the proposals.
When the former lido site is accessible to the public once again, we will begin to look at potential options for the car park and nursery site. It is envisaged that part of the car park would still remain to help serve the medical centre, former lido site and any future development that may come forward on the land.
Q: Have you rejected Save Grange Lido Ltd's efforts to re-establish a pool?
A: No. We are open to working with community groups across all of our towns and villages going forward. We have made it clear that four conditions need to be met before we seriously consider the re-establishment of a pool. These include:
- capital costs being raised to fund any additional works to the site
- a robust and viable business case
- protection for ourselves from having to meet ongoing future losses, should they occur
- agreement from Grange Town Council
We have indicated to Save Grange Lido Ltd (Community Benefit Society, CBS) that the temporary, removable infill to the pool can be scheduled towards the end of the construction works, which allows them time to work towards meeting these four conditions.
If it becomes apparent that these terms are achieved, or close to being achieved, we will work with Save Grange Lido to formalise a revised plan, that includes a pool.
However, as previously indicated, the remedial work is urgent and we are not willing to delay action on site.
Q: What will the recent Coastal Communities Fund money go towards?
A: In March 2019, we were informed of that our application to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) Coastal Communities Fund (Round 5) was successful.
This was a joint bid with Morecambe Bay Partnership for £2.35 million to deliver projects supporting job creation and the visitor economy around Morecambe Bay.
We will act as accountable body and lead authority for the funding, and receive £1 million to deliver enhancement to the Grange-over-Sands promenade, to better connect the former lido site with Grange-over-Sands town centre.
This includes lighting the promenade, upgrading the playground equipment on the promenade, resurfacing works, public realm improvements and art installations, as well as upgrading the electrical and digital services to the prom and former lido.
Morecambe Bay Partnership will receive £1.35 million to deliver an extension to the Bay Cycle Way, linking Morecambe Bay to the Fylde Coast; launch new family friendly cycle routes; an extension to tramper hire and electric bike network; a Bay Cycling Festival; a newly branded Bay Coastal Way, linking with the English Coastal Path; and new visitor experiences.
This bid was worked on for nearly a year, with the original expression of interest being submitted in April 2018, and stage 2 application submitted in January 2019.
As with all of the works to the former lido site as part of the ‘light touch refurbishment’, no works carried out will preclude any future uses of the former lido site.
Q: Could the Coast Communities Funding go towards the pool reinstatement?
A: No. Without a viable business plan, it is difficult to bid for large amounts of external capital funding. This funding application was submitted for specific projects, and, as accountable body and lead authority, we will enter into a legal agreement with MHCLG that will be strictly monitored, so that we are delivering against our proposals. We would not be able to alter this so that the funding could be used for the pool reinstatement.
The proposed Coastal Communities projects will enhance the Grange-over-Sands promenade and former lido site, and the site will ultimately benefit from these enhancements, whether it ends up as a pool or as a ‘dry’ site.