Marple Civic Society ask council to pause and consult!
Marple Civic Society has written to Cllr Mark Hunter (Leader of SMBC), Caroline Simpson (Chief Executive) and Marple Ward Councillors Abell, Alexander, Gribbon, Macalister, Senior and Thornley, asking them to pause hasty plans to demolish Marple Pool in October this year and to consult with the Marple Community over potential ideas for the building's future.
Their letter makes the following key points:
- The building was given to the Marple Community and is capable of being reused.
- The sale of the site is not linked to funding of the new Marple Active Community Hub.
- The council is wrong to treat it as a non-viable asset.
- There are no reports justifying demolition within the planning application.
They finish by asking the council to pause for a feasibility study and to consult with the community on the future use of this valued community asset. If this is of interest to you please read the full letter below. You can share your own thoughts on the plans for demolition by commenting on the planning application via this link and searching for DC/089228.
Marple Swimming Pool - Letter of Objection to Demolition
1. The rather sudden announcement by Stockport MBC that Marple Swimming Pool was to be demolished has brought home to Marple Civic Society the urgent need to re-evaluate it as a community asset. It was given to Marple by the MacNair family in the 1930’s and has remained a much loved and well-used facility for swimming, and learning to swim. Whilst it is now outdated as a swimming pool, the building is capable of re-use and the Society sets out below the case for its retention. Demolition is scheduled in the application to start in October 2023.
The MacNair Gift to the Town
2. The building was opened by Mrs Mary Macnair, the lady who had donated the building in memory of her husband, Andrew Macnair, who died in 1922. They lived at The Shanty, a notable Arts and Crafts house on Church Lane. They both loved Marple and she decided to give the town a permanent memorial to her husband. Her original idea was to provide a communal bath house as many of the houses in the area were still without bathrooms. However, after discussing her ideas with her doctor she decided to finance a swimming pool as it would benefit a wider section of the community, particularly the children.
A Non-Viable Asset ?
3. The swimming pool is now owned by the Council but in every other sense it belongs to Marple. The Council’s view that it is a non-viable asset to the metropolitan borough, to be demolished and sold for development, is in stark contrast to its value to Marple. The sale of the pool does not form part of the funding for the new Marple Active Communities Hub. The application for Prior Approval to demolish the building and raze the site is not supported by any information as to its condition. There is no surveyor’s report; no marketing report on future possible uses; and no other reasoned justification normally submitted with planning applications. Externally the building appears to be perfectly sound; internally, whilst full repairs and a basic re-fit might be costly, those costs should be weighed against other, perhaps greater costs. If demolished in haste, as appears to be the Council’s intention, it could be left as a derelict site surrounded by security fencing for many years.
4. The pool was closed in 2018 because of problems with its filtration system. The cost of repairs and updating were estimated at £2.7 million to bring the pool back up to standard and into use again as a pool. The use of the building for another purpose than a swimming pool would not incur these specialised equipment costs.
5. The cost of providing a new-build community facility for recreation and leisure purposes would be likely to be more than the refurbishment of the pool for the same purpose. The town now lacks a sports hall now that the Ridge College has been redeveloped for housing; and the new Community Hub in the Park will not provide that type of space.
6. The demolition of the pool basin and building would produce enormous waste, carbon release and environmental damage - this consideration alone demands that the demolition is paused until alternatives have been considered. It is now becoming practice to consider the re-use of buildings as a priority before redevelopment for these important sustainability reasons.
7. There would be the huge opportunity cost of using a valuable town centre site for say residential development rather than a community building. Residential development does not need a town centre site. The swimming pool site is closely surrounded by busy roads, which is not favourable to any sort of housing. There are already four elderly persons apartment blocks within half a mile of the site, and two more which are mainly occupied by the elderly. The swimming pool site in its very urban location would not provide the upper market sector development which might tempt people to downsize from their family homes. On the other hand its central location makes it ideal for a community building accessible to all.
8. It is a visually prominent site in the townscape of Marple. It would be a key feature in forthcoming proposals to improve traffic circulation and pedestrian movement in Marple and the placemaking proposals that will go with them. There is no urgency to make this decision - if demolition takes place it will turn an asset into an eyesore. There is no thought-through joined-up thinking solution to follow.
9. The sports hall at the Ridge College has been lost - and there are no plans for its replacement. This situation should itself give pause for thought, to allow an appraisal of all the sports and leisure spaces in Marple, and to examine the ways in which the conversion of the old pool could complement the facilities in the new hub. A large indoor space would have multiple recreation and leisure uses as well as providing for exhibition and performance events. These would be of immense and lasting value to the community.
10. There has been a great deal of new residential development in Marple in recent years which gives rise to (a) demand for an increasing, and younger, population for a full range of recreational facilities, and to (b) a large increase in Council-tax income to SMBC which might reasonable be expected to fund the ongoing revenue costs of such a community building.
11. It is alarming that the Council is treating the demolition of the building and the sale of the site for development as a forgone conclusion. In the absence of convincing information to the contrary, the Society believes that the pool building is in basically sound condition and capable of re-use. A new future for the building should be the subject of a feasibility study and consultation with the people of Marple. Its loss will be irrevocable.