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Hodder’s Cumbrian pool to be flattened

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Berners Pool to be razed less than five years after being completed

Hodder Associates’ award-winning Berners Pool in Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria, is to be demolished less than five years after it opened.

The abandoned swimming pool, which closed in 2006 after the community trust running it went bust, has now been earmarked for demolition under plans to revamp the wider area.

The news comes less than a year after the re-opening of Hodder’s Clissold Leisure Centre in Hackney, East London which was closed for nearly four years following claims by Hackney Council that it had design flaws.

Last week, South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) chose developer Berners Vision Partnership and local architect Damson Design to overhaul the site, following a public vote that placed the developer’s proposals ahead of four other bidders.

The proposals for Grange-over-Sands include plans to refurbish the ageing seafront lido and create a new medical centre, apartments, a retirement hotel and a public leisure centre – with a pool the same size as Hodder’s 25m facility.

David Sykes, head of SLDC’s regeneration and housing services, said: ‘This scheme is in the best interest of the community and we can’t let one building, even though it is a landmark, [hinder that].

‘It would have been too constraining for us to demand [that the bidders] had to find some use for the existing building,’ added Sykes.

Damson Design’s Tony Hills added: ‘Our clients looked at the existing swimming pool building and concluded that the building and its plant had deteriorated to such an extent that refurbishment was not an option.’

Described as a Miesian ‘box-on-a-plinth’ (AJ 22.04.04), Hodder’s pool won a raft of plaudits, as well as an RIBA Award in 2004 and a Civic Trust commendation in the same year.

Practice director Stephen Hodder said: ‘On one hand, I recognise the council’s approach to look at the wider regeneration of the lido and car park, but inevitably I will mourn the loss of something people expended so much energy on.’

He added: ‘As shown by the approach of two of the contest entrants [Aedas and MBLA], the building could have been imaginatively reused. I’m not being precious about my scheme, but it is a comment on our disposable society.’

Eddy Rhead of the Twentieth Century Society’s North West Group said: ‘One must feel great sympathy for Hodder in this instance, as it appears it was the management of the building and not the building itself that has been its downfall. It is an awful waste of what was, and still is, a beautiful building.’

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