Cheshire East councillors have unanimously approved plans to turn a much-loved but now vacant public baths in Crewe into a new all-year-round civic and community hub. The proposals put forward by LDA Design and architects Bailey Garner on behalf of local charity Always Ahead will give the Flag Lane Baths and surrounding area a new lease of life.
Once an important part of the local community, the baths had fallen into disrepair and become a magnet for anti-social behaviour since closing in 2016.
The ambitious new proposition, funded by monies raised by Always Ahead, will save and restore the Art Deco building to create a revitalised and flexible community space that is connected to an inviting new public realm by LDA Design, with flexible play, an amphitheatre with seating, a central water feature, outdoor gym and multi-purpose kiosk.
This versatile outdoor space is designed for day and night-time use and connects through to the building. Lighting and access will be improved, and the site’s mature trees saved with undulating wildflower planting added for greater biodiversity.
The restored Baths will feature heritage galleries, community grocery club, children’s centre, counselling rooms, retail units, café and terrace, youth spaces and a multi-use hall for cinema nights, exhibitions and concerts, and spaces for small businesses. This strong mix will draw people to the area throughout the seasons, and there will be outdoor space for performances, events and spill out from the restored venue. The building will also offer services for the unemployed and homeless.
“Many have referred to the plans as ambitious and I think this is a fair and appropriate description, but I believe Crewe deserves this level of ambition ” said Always Ahead’s David Edwards at the planning committee meeting.
A new art project developed with local school children and artists will sit within the new revitalised landscape.
“It’s been fantastic working with Always Ahead to reimagine this much-loved community space,” said LDA Design’s Ashleigh Davis.
“We want to create a lasting public realm that is used all through the day and into the evening, maximising the benefits to the widest audience possible and supporting the venue’s incredible new offer. The site once had a public paddling pool, and we hope this reimagined space will mean peals of children’s laughter are heard here again.”