Lido could be an arts venue

In last week’s Mercury you reported my suggestion that a new use for the Lido might be better than just demolishing it and using the site as a temporary car park pending redevelopment. 

The Lido building has only recently been repaired at considerable expense to the district council. It is a publicly owned building that would lend itself to many new public uses. It could be Matlock’s equivalent of the Octagon at the Pavilion Gardens in Buxton.

There is no suitable space for our local musical and theatrical groups, and they have had to perform in other towns. The Farmers’ Market has to be held in the Imperial Rooms which limits its size – nearby Bakewell has the second biggest Farmers’ Market in the country, so there are lots of potential local stallholders. Craft Fairs, Antique Fairs, Food Fairs and other uses are accommodated in the Pavilion Gardens in Buxton too - why not in the Lido?

The Market Hall next to the Co-op is cold and gloomy and has been a disaster since it was built in the early 1980s.

The Lido is a light and spacious building – such a contrast! Putting the market in the Lido would also enable the failed Market Hall to be redeveloped as shops.

There is of course the issue that the Lido has an angled swimming pool floor. 

This might be turned to advantage by adapting it as the sloping floor of a theatre layout with the Deep End the location for the stage.  Alternatively the floor could be decked over to make a large flat area for all kinds of uses. 

Even more ambitious, the decking could be retractable with the theatre seats installed underneath it, to be revealed when the floor retracts.

In 2003, these ideas were discussed with local architect Robert Evans of Evans Vettori, who confirmed that these ideas are realistic possibilities. At the time these ideas were passed to the district council – perhaps with the passage of time they have been overlooked?

It would be worth exploring these ideas before deciding simply to demolish a building which has a potential future new life and has its own claims on the affections of the people of Matlock. With its graceful laminated timber beams it is one of the best examples of 1970s design. In future years the Lido could be regarded with the same importance as we now give to formerly derided Victorian buildings.

Car parking is important too of course but there is an under used area at the Bakewell Road bus station and the open area adjacent to it. This could also be adapted as temporary car parking pending redevelopment.

Is this all too ambitious for Matlock? The new Arc sports centre shows what is possible with a bit of ambition and some real determination.

So please can the district council stop and reconsider the options for the Lido site and consult on a range of ideas?

Ken Parker