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Thursday, 30 October 2014

Project to transform Grange pool site is scrapped

A MULTI-MILLION pound project to transform a South Lakeland town has been officially scrapped.

The Berners Vision Partnership (BVP) was set to provide elderly care accommodation, a public swimming pool and affordable housing on a series of sites in Grange-over-Sands.

But South Lakeland District Council yesterday agreed to go back to the drawing board to find a new plan for the land at Berners Close.

The decision was taken after local developer Russell Armer, which made up part of BVP, was forced to pull out of the scheme owing to the deepening economic downturn.

Now South Lakeland council chiefs claim the move has rendered the original tendering process, carried out in 2007, illegal.

Speaking at SLDC’s cabinet meeting yesterday Cllr Hilary Stephenson said the authority was left with no choice but to call time on BVP.

She explained: “One of the partners of the original BVP arrangement withdrew on November 23 last year. This meant that the proposal had materially changed so we are now having to go back to the drawing board.”

Cllr Stephenson, SLDC’s communities and well-being portfolio holder, added: “We need to be very pleased that the GPs surgery is still going ahead.

“But we now need to get our energy behind this once more and to keep up momentum.”

Work on the state-of-the-art health centre is expected to begin in the coming months.

But the future of the remaining land, as well as the town’s historic open-air lido, is now uncertain once again.

Grange resident and businessman Jonathan Denby, who led the BVP scheme, has called upon SLDC to plug the funding gap left by Russell Armer.

But this was not deemed viable by the authority.

Yesterday Grange Cllr Tom Harvey described the situation as “unfortunate”.

“We are having to draw a line under BVP but it’s fair to say the officers have done all they can to get this under way.”

He added: “So we are absolutely right to start again and move forward with what is a great opportunity to get what the residents of Grange want.”

A working party including representatives of SLDC and other public bodies within Grange-over-Sands is expected to be formed to discuss the way forward.

The project is then expected to be re-tendered in a process similar to that held in 2007.

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