Crewe swimming baths development set for approval this week

By Belinda Ryan - Local Democracy Reporter

23rd May 2022 | Local News

Plans to convert the former Flag Lane Baths into a flagship community centre are expected to be approved this week - May 25 (Baily Garner/Always Ahead Charity).
Plans to convert the former Flag Lane Baths into a flagship community centre are expected to be approved this week - May 25 (Baily Garner/Always Ahead Charity).

Ambitious plans to transform the former Crewe Baths into a high-quality community centre have been recommended for approval.

The locally listed building on Flag Lane was opened in 1937 and closed in 2016 when the new Lifestyle Centre opened.

On Wednesday (May 25), the southern planning committee will consider an application to develop the building and the wider site and give the historic property a new lease of life while retaining many of its historic features.

An artist's imprssion of how the former baths will look from outside (Baily Garner/Always Ahead Charity).

The Always Ahead Charity has applied to Cheshire East for permission to change the use of the former swimming pool to a community hub.

This will include heritage galleries, shop units, community grocery club, children's centre, counselling rooms, restaurant, café, terraced seating, rentable space, office spaces, youth spaces and a multi-use hall for conferences, presentations, cinema nights, exhibition spaces and concerts.

Crewe Town Council has welcomed the proposal, which will also create the equivalent of 41 full time jobs.

In the planning officer's report due to go to Wednesday's meeting, the town council states: "Flag Lane Baths is a significant survival within the town from a period when Crewe had the largest engineering works in the world.

"Bringing the site back into use through these proposals will have a beneficial impact on the built and social heritage of the building, which is currently deteriorating and inaccessible."

Forty-six letters of support have been sent to Cheshire East and one objection.

The objector states the scheme will exacerbate existing anti-social behaviour, will be in competition with town centre retail and that removing original art deco doors and windows can only be detrimental to the heritage status of the building.

The former Flag Lane baths have been derelict and boarded up since 2016 (Crewe Nub News).

Crewe Town Council has asked that the existing art deco windows and features on primary elevations are retained.

Cheshire East's planning officer states, in his report: "The whole building is locally listed as it is a clearly designed 1930s art deco building which has retained most of the original features such as drying racks, mangle, windows, tiles, railings and doors.

"The number of original features retained is exceptional for a building of this type and their retention is welcomed by the council's conservation officer."

The planning officer continues: "The proposed use for this building is the optimal use as a community hub which also retains the character of the building.

"The council's conservation officer welcomes the development to repair and revamp the building in a sensitive manner whilst keeping the important features such as the tiles, railings, floors and internal doors."

The application also requests permission for 'delicate and complementary extensions on the south elevation'.

The site has parking for 44 cars, including six disabled spaces, although no electric vehicle charging spaces are indicated.

The council's highways department has raised no objection to the application and the planning officer states it is not considered the proposed development will have any significant impact on neighbouring residential amenity.

How the swimming pool arena looks now - development is imminent (28 days later).

The officer states: "The proposal is considered to be respectful of the character of the building and will not lead to any harm of the fabric of the building or its setting. The re-use of the building weighs in favour of this development."

The southern planning meeting takes place at Crewe Municipal Buildings at 10am on Wednesday, May 25.

READ MORE: Crewe Market Hall celebrates one-year anniversary - traders give thoughts on town centre venue.

READ MORE: Four-storey Crewe apartments set for approval just weeks after being refused.

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(Ryan Parker and Belinda Ryan)

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