What’s Going On At The Lido?

What’s happening at the Lido now?

At the time of writing (July 2023) work on the first phase of the restoration of the site is well under way. R H Irving Construction were appointed by South Lakeland District Council (now Westmorland and Furness Council) to carry out the work to the Lido and on the Promenade, and the work is expected to be finished in mid-2024.

We know that many of our supporters are concerned that the work currently being carried out will damage the prospects of the pool itself being restored. We’d like to reassure you that this is not the case. Westmorland and Furness Council fully supports the long term plan to restore the Lido with a pool at its heart, but in the current climate, with its finances stretched, can only offer support for the scheme. The Council has already committed £4.8m to the first phase, and Councillors and Officers are working closely with us as we move towards a planning application for the second phase of the work.

What’s involved in Phase 1? And please don’t worry about the infill!

The work underway at the moment will stabilise the structures of the Lido. Long neglected with minimal maintenance since closure in 1993, the site became hazardous and unsafe. The Phase 1 work will remedy this and will make the site accessible to the public once more. The Central Pavilion will be restored, the terraces and sea walls repaired, and improvements made to the diving podium. The North and South Pavilions will be made structurally safe but left moth-balled pending SGL taking over the site.

We had many lengthy and detailed discussions with the Council about the pool basin. We looked at fencing surrounding it or temporary decking over it so that the water could be retained, but these solutions were found to be unworkable (health and safety considerations for the fencing, and prohibitive expense for the decking).

The pool basin could not simply be drained and left empty, as without the weight of water the pool basin would probably break its back and require expensive repair.

In the end, the decision was made that the pool basin would be filled with a temporary, removeable and reusable granular material. At the end of Phase one, there will be some landscaping on top of this to make the site more attractive.

It’s important to note that the SGL requires a degree of infill come what may, to enable us to achieve the pool depth profile we need. Retaining the existing depths was ruled out at an early stage on the grounds of cost (both capital and on-going outlay) and safety grounds – a deeper pool requires more lifeguards, and in a deep outdoor pool it can be difficult for lifeguards to see a swimmer in difficulties under the water.

The infill is temporary. We know that removing it adds to the cost of the second phase of the work but the two phase approach is one we’ve been working on with the Council since 2019, and is the best way for us to secure the full restoration.

What will happen at the end of Phase 1?

We’d hoped that we’d have the funds in place to get on with Phase 2 at the end of Phase 1, but that now looks unlikely. Major funders generally require a two stage approach – paying firstly for development work (planning etc) and then the delivery phase (construction). We expect to be at the development stage in a few months’ time but don’t expect to be ready for delivery when Phase 1 is complete. There’s also the requirement for significant match funding (see below).

We expect to be granted a lease of the site at the end of Phase 1. We’ll take over the site and will manage it under a meanwhile use whilst we get on with the development and delivery work. We’ll use the Central Pavilion as a visitor/heritage attraction promoting our work. We’ll host arts and cultural events at the Lido (we’re in discussion with several groups at the moment). We’re also planning to secure funding to fit out the North and South Pavilions as a fitness/well-being hub and community space.

What about fundraising?

Many of you have wondered why we haven’t yet sought major donations or issued a community share offer. We’ve taken the view that it is difficult at the moment to seek large donations from benefactors, as we have nothing tangible to offer at present. We decided that the time to do this is when we have planning approval and when we have large grant funding in place – large grants require a substantial degree of match funding, and large donations and the community share offer are the means by which we will achieve the match funding needed.

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