Why will the Paradise Centre stay but Paradise Pools close? The clue is in East Cambridgeshire’s Local Plan.
Last week, Spotted in Ely reported that the Paradise Pools will close once Ely’s new leisure centre off the A10 is completed. This has led to numerous questions from followers, asking why the existing gym is remaining while the pools are to shut.
The answer lies in the ownership and leases of the different amenities – which are outlined in East Cambridgeshire District Council’s draft Local Plan, which also describes its ambitions to develop the existing car park into houses.
Drafted in October 2012, the plan outlines the council’s vision for developing the Paradise area – including building houses on the existing car park and a multi storey car park on the current Bowls Club site.
According to the draft plan, the council aims to build 64 houses in the area it dubs the “Paradise Quarter”.
The complex ownership of the area, which lies off off Nutholt Lane to the north of Ely’s city centre and is part of Ely Conservation Area, means that some parts could potentially be sold off while others can’t.
With 178 parking spaces, Newnham Street car park, also known as Paradise car park, is owned by East Cambridgeshire District Council.
Paradise Pools, which are currently being run by Everyone Active on behalf of ECDC, are earmarked for closure once Ely’s new leisure centre is completed.
While the Paradise Centre is also owned by ECDC, it’s subject to a lease until 2085.
Meanwhile the City of Ely Bowls Club is privately owned.
The Paradise Centre and Bowls Club are “in active use and it is not clear when they may become available for development”, the draft plan says.
“The District Council has aspirations for the area to be comprehensively developed as a mixed use scheme incorporating residential, car parking and possibly community uses.
“Housing is considered to be the most appropriate primary use for the Paradise Pool/Newnham Street car park site given its location in a primarily residential area whilst the Bowls Club site could be suitable for a multi storey car park.
Any future development should take into account improved pedestrian links to the city centre, “explore provision” of car access to the site from Deacon’s Lane and provide multi storey car parking “in order to support the city centre”, the report says.
It also recommends a “positive frontage” to overlook Paradise field and ensuring that development is “appropriate” for Ely Conservation Area and does not obstruct “key views” of Ely Cathedral.