A MULTI-MILLION pound regeneration project for a South Lakes seaside resort is being threatened by a ruling to preserve an historic saltwater pool.
English Heritage’s decision to classify the 1930s lido at Grange-over-Sands as a listed building has been described as ‘bonkers’ by a businessman who has vowed to fight the decision.
Disappointed hotelier Jonathan Denby said there was a danger the 79-year-old outdoor pool would become a carbuncle on the face of Grange.
Pressure to preserve the lido has been mounting following a Berners Vision Partnership (BVP) proposal to turn it into an ornamental garden as part of a multi-million project to regenerate the Berners area of Grange, including a care home, health centre and new housing.
Mr Denby, chairman of South Lakes Hotels and key BVP member, said the Grade ll listing of the lido threatened plans for a new swimming pool and the restoration of the resort’s promenade.
He said the verdict could be challenged and this would be his 'first priority'.
The Art Deco lido – the only one of its kind in the north – was listed after an application by developer Phil Bradby, who wants to see the outdoor pool fully restored.
A Facebook campaign was launched and by yesterday it had 548 supporters. Various petitions have also been signed by people unable to access the internet.
Mr Denby said: "As the lido redevelopment is an integral part of the new pool project, the decision threatens the new pool, as well as the restoration of the promenade.
"The decision has been made in complete ignorance of the cost of restoring the lido. It would take many millions of public money to restore it and it is a pipe-dream."
He said BVP's plans were 'fully funded' and 'ready to go'.
"Restoring the lido, which is more than double the size of an Olympic pool, just isn't viable. It would be inconceivable to pay for it to be heated all year round."
Mr Bradby, who specialises in restoring historic buildings, said: "If it was possible for Penzance, Plymouth and Saltdean to restore and maintain their lidos why should it be just a pipedream for Grange?
"It would cost less to restore the lido than build another swimming pool next to it. South Lakeland District Council should be fighting to restore this important heritage in Grange rather than contriving to fill it in."
Under Mr Denby’s proposals the lido would be made into a 'lovely attractive area' with a garden and cafe.
Hilary Stephenson, SLDC's portfolio holder for communities, insisted the listing had 'not changed' the authority's plans to work with BVP to transform the area.
"Re-development proposals will have to respect the character and qualities which the site has been listed for,” she said. “We will be meeting Grange councillors and BVP and reviewing the situation."
Grange mayor Coun Tom Harvey said: "While at first glance it may seem that this listing will jeopardise the whole plan, careful planning could still ensure a sympathetic redevelopment of this site while maintaining its historic integrity."
Melissa Harrinton, a leading campaigner on Grange lido’s Facebook page, said she swam in the lido as a child and would like her two children to have a similar chance.
"We already have three swimming pools in the area," said Mrs Harrington.
“The lido offers people the chance to be out in the elements and enjoy the views of the bay. It's a crucial part of Grange's heritage and it could be a great tourist attraction."
* Morecambe writer Fabian Wadsworth has been inspired by memories of the lido to create a book of memories and photographs. She is appealing for help from residents to email her with their memeories for the collection. Email Fabian.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click on the link below for our photo gallery of the lido.