While Great Yarmouth Borough Council continue building a £26m swimming pool on the seafront, under the guise of helping local people, less than 200m away squalid and unfit public squares and streets are left to deteriorate further, so what’s the story?

Reality check

Great Yarmouth Borough Council is in self-congratulatory overdrive mode, with the council leader, MP and many others talking of the huge success they have achieved by ‘winning’ a number of major grants, mainly from central public funds. The story being promoted is that of a caring council, which has the locals at heart, with the population fully engaged and signed up to their plans. However, just one look at the photos that follow provides a completely different narrative, one that is more likely closer to reality than anything being pumped out of the local authority’s press office.

Civic pride

There is collective self-denial among all the great and good in Great Yarmouth.  Even by the standards of a country torn to pieces by Brexit madness, the gall of deceit in Great Yarmouth makes Brexit seem like a slight difference of opinion.  The photos in this post are of three public squares surrounded by houses.  As all three have signage with the borough council logo it can only be assumed the squares are council owned and managed.  These squares are within 200m of the seafront where the local authority is building a brand new swimming pool, which is almost devoid of architectural design and is being constructed at the cost of 26 million pounds ($36m for our American friends).  

£26m for a swimming pool?

  • No, the pool is not Olympic size
  • No, it is not designed to compete with the stunning Edwardian lido complex that once brought tourists from across the country
  • No, it is not being built to exacting, world leading environmental design standards.  
  • It will double the parking, 200 car spaces instead of 100 previously provided.  

“This took place at the inauguration of the new Swimming pool on Central Beach. Great Yarmouth Lido, despite the rain, welcomed a crowd of 2,000 spectators who witnessed the unique method of the opening of a pool.”

FINDING LIDOS – DIVE INTO LOST LIDOS Anne Green Jessel / June 25, 1998 /

Build Back Better

The Conservative tagline for winning Parliamentary seats in Northern England in the 2019 election to gain power was ‘Build Back Better’.  Bizarrely, had the Conservative led council of Great Yarmouth heeded this slogan, the town might now be building back immensely better, with an imaginative new Lido and entertainment complex based on the stunning Edwardian version the town inaugurated in the 1920s. Only this time with the very latest in design and environmental best practice, along the lines of this pool in Helsinki.

For more information:

Based on Bridlington

Without irony, or seemingly humour, the leader of the council told us with pride, while on a Zoom call, how the £26m monstrosity was inspired by seeing a similar swimming pool in Bridlington.  I checked with a friend who is based near Bridlington on the success of their pool and he was mystified why anyone would class it as a roaring success or build a town plan around something similar. 


The local population who inhabit the town are likely irritants to local councillors and many of the senior council officers.  From an outsider’s viewpoint, I saw no regard for the views of the local population or their wishes and hopes for themselves and their children.

In the Haphazard.Business post Chicken Coop, I tackle some of the reasons why it might be the case for many in power not to care.  As if providing further evidence for Chicken Coop, the Great Yarmouth Mercury ran a short article on a developer being refused permission to turn a small property being turned into a block of bedsits.    The article states that the council refused the conversion of this small building into SIX [6] flats but now developers are back asking to create ‘four self-contained studios and a single one-bedroom apartment’.  

It is as if the local authority is open to allowing the building of prison cells as residential accommodation. 

Great Yarmouth Mercury newspaper, Friday 3 August 2021

The definition of a flat and its permitted size as laid down in law is as follows;

“Approved document B, Fire Safety, Volume 2, Buildings other than dwellinghouses (2019 edition), defines a flat as: ‘A separate and self-contained premises constructed or adapted for use for residential purposes and forming part of a building from some other part of which it is divided horizontally. ‘ 2 Aug 2021″

“Technical housing standards – nationally described space standard, HMG, Department for Communities and Local Government, March 2015, see here” **

What is truly shocking about the Mercury article is there is no outright refusal by the council towards the developer.  The building should be nothing other than one or two professionally designed ‘flats’ at a minimum.   These are not ‘flats’ or ‘studios’ being proposed but old fashioned bedsits.  Bedsits blight the whole of Great Yarmouth and imprison thousands of people in squalor and poverty.   This in turn leads to streets piled up with bins, detritus and broken people.  


Back in September 2020 I posted Postcards Decay, presenting the ills of Great Yarmouth through photos.  The images are presented in vibrant form, imitating the aesthetic of glossy postcards. At that time my idea was to continue to attempt to engage, not attack or impose my big city views on local issues or sensibilities. 

As the cold north wind picked up during autumn it became apparent that there was no opposition to the councillors or the council senior team.  And as the money began to roll in from the central government, it became clear there was no brake to what these people in control of the town could do, and there was no coherent strategy.   The council is out of control and no one is brave enough to say anything.  Meanwhile, the people who are residents in Great Yarmouth have to attempt to negotiate this world where prospects of escape or betterment are bleak. People are hungry and mothers take their children to school in the icy wind without a coat. 

Having read the council’s previous strategy and cultural documents, hardly any targets have ever been achieved. Based on what I witnessed, this will continue to be the case and the incoming millions will also be wasted and it will be little comfort – or food – for those who are trapped in poverty in Great Yarmouth now, or in the future.

To close, here are a few more images of the grim streets and conditions.

John M

** Within the above document, ‘Table 1 – Minimum gross internal floor areas and storage (m2)’ states a minimum flat size of 39m². This means the building will have to be at a minimum 234m² before including stairs and landings.  Having seen this building, I struggle to see it having that much space.  

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