WORK has begun to build more than 40 ‘affordable’ homes on the site of the former Berner’s swimming pool in Grange-over-Sands.
A total of 43 houses and flats are expected to be in situ by spring, 2015, now contractors have moved onto the site to start the £6m project.
“We hear time and again about the need for affordable housing and I'm so pleased to see that after our efforts the diggers are finally on site at Berners,” said Councillor Tom Harvey, Grange South district councillor and chairman of Grange Town Council.
“They are starting to build what I consider to be truly affordable homes that will allow many of our local families to stay and live and work in and around Grange.”
The scheme, which is being overseen by Two Castles Housing Association and Esh Property Services, will deliver 32 homes for affordable rent and 11 which will be available under a shared ownership arrangement.
They will sit on land previously occupied by the Berners Indoor Pool, which has been branded Grange’s ‘white elephant’ by councillors.
The £3.3m leisure centre opened to much fanfare in 2003 and in 2004 its architect, Stephen Hodder of Hodder Associates, was awarded the Royal Institute of British Architects award for his design.
But the pool was open for just three years before being forced to close in 2006.
A raft of faults were said to have been identified in the building a year later.
It stood empty until it was pulled down last year.
Coun Graham Vincent, district council portfolio holder for health and wellbeing, said last year he was glad the saga was being ‘drawn to a close’.
“It is wonderful to see the work starting on this development,” he said.
“It’s a great scheme for that site and developing affordable homes is very important for South Lakeland, including in Grange-over-Sands.”
The vision for the scheme was developed by the Berners Grange Project Group with support from South Lakeland District Council and Grange Town Council.
Part-funded with an investment from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), the scheme was made possible thanks to SLDC agreeing to sell the land for £1.
It also made available a grant of £230,000 towards the project.
There are currently more than 100 people on the council’s housing waiting list for affordable homes in Grange and the energy-efficient scheme will be available for people with a connection to the town and surrounding area.
Rob Brittain, Property Services Director at Two Castles Housing Association, said: “Whilst thousands of South Lakeland residents and their families remain on the housing waiting list, there is an ever pressing need to build quality affordable homes in towns like Grange-over-Sands.
“We are delighted that this particular scheme will regenerate a former brownfield site for the benefit of the local area.
“Not only will the development help to create local jobs in construction, it will also be a sustainable home for the future - keeping energy costs down for tenants.”