Plans to redevelop the derelict baths into a community centre were given the green light
The people of Crewe have welcomed the council’s decision to approve the long-awaited regeneration of the town’s iconic swimming baths. The transformation of the now-derelict building on Flag Lane was recently rubber stamped by Cheshire East Council.
The plans, headed by the Always Ahead Charity, will see the site turned into a new community hub. It 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.
The project has long received widespread support in the town and would finally see the much-loved Art Deco building brought back into use. It has become derelict and been subjected to multiple incidents of vandalism since the baths closed in 2016.
The Always Ahead Charity posted on the Flag Lane Baths Facebook page: “It was a huge day for everybody involved our amazing project, as we secured a unanimous acceptance on our planning application for the Flag Lane Baths development.
“The hard work starts now as we start our transformation of the iconic Crewe landmark.”
The development has received support from across the political spectrum. Dr Kieran Mullan, Crewe and Nantwich MP, said following he decision: “Great to see this project moving forward with the funding from the Crewe Town Deal from the Government as part of levelling up.”
A statement from Crewe West Labour councillors Connor Naismith and Marilyn Houston said: “Labour councillors Naismith and (Jill) Rhodes spoke in support of the application, and this was passed unanimously. This was a key campaign pledge in Councillor Naismith’s election campaign in May 2021 so it is fantastic to see such huge progress made.
“Thanks once again have to go to Reverend David Edwards and everyone involved with the Always Ahead Charity for their ambition and tireless work to get this project off the ground. We now hope to see work beginning on site as soon as possible, so that the building can once again be brought into community use at the earliest opportunity.”
And residents in the town were largely supportive of the decision to approve the plans. Many of them praised the work of the Always Ahead Charity in bringing an old building
Responding to the news on Facebook, Diane Yates commented: “Fantastic news thank you to everyone who has worked so hard to make this happen it will be amazing for the community of Crewe.”
Berenice Astbury said: “Excellent news and very hard won well done to all those who campaigned to save this beautiful Art Deco building for the people of Crewe.”
And Yvette Leclerc said: “That’s great news it’s about time the building is getting put to good use.”
Some people were disappointed that it would not retain its old purpose as a swimming baths. Andrew Chandler said: “Nice to see a use but all of it could have been catered for whilst retaining swimming. Kind of short-sighted but hey ho.”
Susan Harrop said: “No, that building was destined to be a glorious swimming pool.”
The Always Ahead Charity has outlined six primary roles that the new community centre would play in the town:
1. A provision of activities for young people
2. Dedicated space and services to the homeless
3. Services for the unemployed
4. Restaurant and catering facilities
5. An entertainment venue and visitor attraction
6. A meeting place for local community groups
A statement submitted with the now-approved application reads: “The proposal for the community centre will aid in the quality of local community support and look to act as a catalyst for social enterprise in the local area. The proposal seeks to utilise an abandoned, vacant building into a functioning building for the residents of Crewe.
“The proposal seeks to avoid negative impact on the surrounding area and on neighbouring properties. The application is a carefully considered, high quality scheme tailored to its location, and the requirements of the school.
“Overall, the scheme’s design takes into account the neighbouring context, as well as incorporating features of nature to reinforce the purpose of the building.”