CIVIC chiefs say plans to transform Lymington’s famous seawater baths have been wrecked by the decision to make it a listed building.
The Government has agreed to give it extra protection, sparking fears that proposals to carry out major improvements will have to be ditched.
The baths, which celebrate their 180th anniversary later this year, are owned by Lymington and Pennington Town Council, which had hoped to reduce the size of the pool, build new facilities and use the revenue generated to modernise the site.
But it fears the plans will be thrown into disarray by the decision to make the pool a Grade II listed building.
Cllr John Olliff-Cooper, chairman of the amenities committee, told the annual town meeting: “At first glance it may seem that an accolade has been awarded to the town and the listing will certainly be regarded by a few activists as a victory.
“Sadly, it is likely that this will prove to be an extremely negative and expensive event.
“A year ago we published a paper outlining a three-phase programme to upgrade the seawater baths area. In the longterm that development might have provided an outstanding and attractive outdoor environment.
That plan is effectively scuppered. We will now look at what can be done with what we have.”
But the decision to list the site was welcomed by former town councillor Tony Swain, exchairman of the seawater baths sub-committee.
He said: “This is good news. It will guarantee that any future development will be carried out in a sensitive and sympathetic manner.”
Culture secretary and Basingstoke MP Maria Miller, below, has listed the baths on the advice of English Heritage.
It means that the building’s new status will have to be taken into account if any planning applications to alter the site are submitted to New Forest District Council.
Members will consider the views of the council’s conservation officers before making a decision.
An English Heritage spokesman said: “Just because the building has been listed doesn’t mean that sensitive changes can’t be made, but that’s a matter for the district council.”
- The baths are due to reopen on May 1.