A majority of Grange-over-Sands residents are in favour of restoring the town’s historic saltwater lido, according to a public consultation carried out by South Lakeland District Council. Reporter Toni Guillot visited a public exhibition at the town’s Victoria Hall to find out what the next step will be in developing the iconic landmark for future generations.

THE Grange-over-Sands saltwater lido was designed by council surveyor Bernard Smith and opened in 1932.

It was one of about 169 built around the UK in the 1930s by local councils as recreational facilities. The pool is one of the last remaining British Art Deco lidos in the north of England with the survival of all key ancillary buildings and structures, including decorative details such as ceiling rose and changing cubicles.

Following its closure in 1993 the lido became derelict and came close to being demolished before a public campaign led to it being listed.

The council is now considering selling off part of the land around the site and using the proceeds for restoration.

Town and district councillor Tom Harvey said consultation had produced some fantastic results: “We are now at the stage of boiling down those ideas to ones that are sustainable and achievable with the constraints of a Heritage Lottery bid.

“I'm sure there are still people who have their own thoughts on what should be done with it but haven’t got round to saying what they are. Now is the time to do it.”

English Heritage highlights the lido’s architectural and social heritage significance.

In the 1930s beauty pageants were held at the lido. The Neo Now and Partners group putting together a bid for funding want to trace articipants to become a ‘poster girl’ for the bid.

Coun Graham Vincent, South Lakeland District Council’s portfolio holder for health and well-being, said: “Bringing the lido back into public use will support our aims of increasing leisure participation in the whole district and improving health.”

A consultation by Neo Now and Partners on behalf of SLDC and Grange Town Council was created to identify sustainable use ideas.

The survey will determine the Heritage Lottery Fund bid by January 2014. Of 953 respondents, 73 per cent said they wanted a ‘a lido’.

Other suggestions included an on-site café (66 per cent); an open-air performance venue (62 per cent); a winter ice rink (62 per cent); and a heritage visitors’ centre (47 per cent).

The results exhibition taking place this week has allowed members of the public to express their views and vote for one of six options.

Visitors can also record and share lido memories and Lido Legends.

Town councillor and chairman of The Three Parks Group in Grange Ron Shapland explained how the lido was considered to be a rare and complete example of a 1930s art deco lido in the Grange community.

“We want something done constructively. We have seen a community supported project costing millions of pounds go to waste on the Berner’s pool site so understandably we have concerns.

“We need to make sure that the Grange Lido is financially viable, and I feel as though this may be our last chance to rejuvenate the area.”

Neo Now project partner Denise Bernard believes the results of the survey and the community interest has made a positive step towards securing a grant: “We are not going to be able to receive millions of pounds unless we present something that shows the support of the community and we are definitely achieved that.”