Ripon Spa Baths to remain up for sale despite repeated calls for u-turn on plan to sell off historic building

Council bosses have rejected repeated calls for the sale of Ripon Spa Baths to be halted while work on the city’s regeneration masterplan is underway.

Ripon Spa Baths
Ripon Spa Baths

The historic baths was put on the market by Harrogate Borough Council in February in a move which sparked concerns that it could lose its community use if snapped up by a private developer.

Groups including Ripon City Council, Ripon Civic Society and Ripon Together have since made calls for the sale not to be rushed through, but borough bosses have now made their intentions clearer than ever.

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“We have no plans to withdraw the sale of Ripon Spa Baths,” a Harrogate Borough Council spokesman said. “The building will soon become surplus to our requirements and we do not have the resources to maintain it.

“Selling the baths for redevelopment, subject to planning permission and listed building consents, would allow this local asset to be given a new lease of life, retain its key features and remain as a city landmark. Ripon City Council, or another interested party, is welcome to submit a bid.”

City council leader Andrew Williams told a meeting on May 4 that it was “clearly inappropriate” for the 116-year-old baths to remain on the market while the Ripon Renewal Project is underway.

The borough council-led project started in January with a consultancy firm being paid £85,000 to draw up a vision for the future of the city and help it win funding for major infrastructure, planning and community projects.

At the meeting, Coun Williams also pledged to set up a community working group to think up future uses for the baths which will reopen on 14 May following months of closures caused by the lockdown and staffing issues.

He said: “This council needs to take a lead in bringing other groups together to look at alternatives in terms of what the Spa Baths site could potentially be used for. With this master-planning exercise going on at the moment, we shouldn’t be taking this building out of the equation.”

A spokesman for Harrogate Borough Council said the building is being sold because it will no longer be needed by the authority when the refurbishment of Ripon Leisure Centre is completed later this year.

The multi-million pound upgrades were due to be completed earlier in 2021 but there have been construction and Covid delays.

The spokesman added: “Our strategy of disposing of assets no longer required means we have been able to invest more than £10m in Ripon. The city’s new state-of-the-art, bigger, and better swimming pool and refurbished leisure centre will open at the end of this year”.