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Thursday, 31 July 2014

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Frustration over delays to town’s swimming pool

RESIDENTS have spoken of their frustration at the lack of progress on a multi-million pound development in Grange.

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THE PLAN: An artist’s impression of how the site would look after regeneration

South Lakeland District Council’s overview and scrutiny committee discussed progress on the project at a meeting in the town on Tuesday.

Members recommended council bosses approve a lease for the health centre at Berners Close and find a strategy to move discussions forward for the remainder of the scheme.

The committee heard from South Lakeland hotelier Jonathan Denby, who gave assurances plans for a leisure centre, pool, housing and an elderly care home will go ahead.

The development would be built at the site of the dilapidated Berners Pool and would also see the former Berners Bridge restored and the town’s former saltwater lido converted into a fitness suite.

Residents of Grange told the committee they were frustrated at the lack of progress.

Pensioner Charmian Piper said: “Will there be any chance of having a public swimming pool in Grange before I die?”

She added: “I currently have to drive to the nearest pool by car. Without swimming, I would simply decay.” But Mr Denby, the man behind the Berners Vision Partnership plan, assured the meeting at the town’s Victoria Hall that negotiations and legal issues had been ongoing behind the scenes.

He told the meeting: “I understand residents’ frustration but work has been continuous for the past three years. We thought we would sign the legal contracts before Christmas but that didn’t happen.

“At this point we are ready to go with the leisure centre, pool and redevelopment of the Lido and our partners, McCarthy and Stone, are ready with the care home for the very elderly.”

Mr Denby said he had been seeking a meeting with Network Rail since April to discuss the reinstatement of Berners Bridge.

He told the Evening Mail he had only received a reply this week – delaying the project significantly.

Mr Denby said: “Network Rail have not covered themselves in glory in their approach to this but unfortunately they have a reputation for it, as seen with Clare House Lane Bridge.

“Taking them out of the equation, if everything else goes as well as possible, we could expect to lay the first brick next year.”

Other residents asked that members of the overview and scrutiny committee consider a recent proposal for the redevelopment of the lido into private holiday accommodation.

But they were told it was not possible as the development of the lido was tied into the BVP proposals.

SLDC project officer Jayne Kendall told the meeting: “This is a holistic scheme where one part pays for the other.

“It’s like a big jigsaw with each part tied to the next.

She added: “It’s important to say that what we are trying to do is to work with BVP to deliver what the people of Grange said they wanted in 2008.”

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