Ripon Spa Baths made Asset of Community Value in boost for battle against private sale
Ripon Spa Baths has been given protected status in a boost for campaigners battling to save the 116-year-old building from being sold off for housing
The baths, which was put up for sale by Harrogate Borough Council in February, has been made an Asset of Community Value after a successful applcation by city councillors.
Its new status means it must be used for the community and is protected from a change of use or demolition, although further submissions must now be made.
Ripon City Council will have a six week period to register its interest as a potential bidder for the building, before being given a further six months to bring forward detailed proposals of how it could be used by the community.
A city council spokesperson said: "The application was based on the importance of the site being well placed to provide a space within the culturally important spa quarter of Ripon for the furthering of cultural, recreational and/or sporting interests of Ripon residents.
"Ripon City Council firmly believes that this facility can continue to fulfil the social interests of the community, albeit in a different form to today."
When the baths was put on the open market for an undisclosed sum, concerns were raised that it could lose its community use if it was snapped up by a private developer.
Ripon councillors also claimed the sale was being "rushed through" and made repeated calls for it to be withdrawn while work on the city's regeneration masterplan is underway.
Harrogate Borough Council previously said it had no plans to pull the sale which has now come to a close after a bidding deadline of 30 June. The council also insisted it was open to any offers which came forward.
The baths - which was the last of its kind to open in England in 1905 - is being sold as the borough council said it will no longer be needed when a 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 Covid and construction delays, including the discovery of an underground void at the site.
A Harrogate Borough Council spokesperson said: “It has been agreed that Ripon Spa Baths will be listed as an Asset of Community Value.
“This offers the community the time to develop their interest in the spa baths should they choose to do so.”
By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter