Harrogate council hits back at claims Ripon Spa Baths sale is being 'rushed through'

Harrogate Borough Council has hit back at claims that the sale of Ripon's historic spa baths is being "rushed through".

Thursday, 11th March 2021, 4:16 pm
Ripon Spa Baths was put up for sale by Harrogate Borough Council last month with an undisclosed price tag.

The Grade II-listed building - which was the last of its kind to open in England - was put up for sale last month in a move which sparked concerns amongst Ripon councillors who want to see the building kept in use as a community facility.

And at a Ripon City Council meeting on Monday, there were further questions over how quickly the baths could be sold off and whether the public will have a say on its future.

City council leader Andrew Williams said he had concerns the sale was being done "under our noses," while councillor Pauline McHardy claimed "Harrogate is trying to rush a sale through", adding "we need to have detailed consultation and time to consider the future use of this asset that belongs to the city".

The Grade-II list building was opened in 1905 by a member of the royal family.

In response, a spokesperson for Harrogate Borough Council said: "The sale of Ripon Spa Baths is not being rushed through. Every bid will be assessed on its own individual merits and the sale will be subject to the normal formal process.

“The sale, and redevelopment of the listed building, would allow this local asset to be redeveloped, retain key features and remain as a city landmark.”

It is the second time the baths have been put up for sale by Harrogate Borough Council. The authority advertised it in 2008 with a £3.3million price tag, but later withdrew its sale plans following a community campaign.

The building is currently on the market as it will no longer be needed by the council when a refurbishment of Ripon Leisure Centre is completed later this year.

At the meeting on Monday, Ripon councillors vowed to put pressure on Harrogate Borough Council to ensure the baths are kept in use as a community facility and not sold off for housing.

Councillor Williams said: “This is important in a growing city, which will see more than 1,700 new homes being built in future years. We can’t afford to see the loss of community facilities."

The multi-million pound refurbishment of Ripon Leisure Centre was due to be completed earlier this year but there have been delays after workers were forced to down tools for two months during the first Covid-19 lockdown.

The works are now scheduled for completion in November and include a new six-lane 25 metre pool, health suite, dance studios and play area.

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter