Harrogate Borough Council put the historic baths on the market in February, leading to concerns it could be sold to a private developer and turned into housing.
Ripon City Council, Ripon Civic Society and Ripon Together called for any sale not to be rushed through and applied for the 116-year-old Grade II listed building, which has a distinctive terracotta-clad frontage, to be listed as an asset of community value.
Ripon city council leader Andrew Williams told the Stray Ferret today the application had been accepted.
It means the local community now has six months to put together a bid to buy the building, which Harrogate Borough Council has said will be ‘surplus to requirements‘ when the new Ripon Leisure Centre opens this year.
Cllr Williams said he was “highly delighted” by today’s news. He added:
“I hope it means we can now guarantee a future for the site that doesn’t involve it being turned into expensive apartments.
“People across the community have been calling for it not to be housing. There has been very broad support for it remaining as a community asset.
“We now need to explore all the options open to the local community with proper professional advice, to secure the long-term use of the spa baths for community use.”
Cllr Williams said it seemed unlikely the baths would remain as a swimming pool and what happened next remained unclear.
“I’ll be talking to the full council on Monday, looking to appoint professional advisors on what can be done with the building and to create a development brief for how it can be used by the community.
“A new use needs to be found, and I doubt it will still be a swimming pool. But it does provide an exciting opportunity to reinvent the site and city as a whole”.
The Stray Ferret has asked Harrogate Borough Council for comment but has yet to receive a response.
What does Asset of Community Value status mean?
According to Harrogate Borough Council’s website, a building or land can be listed as an asset of community value if:
- current primary use of the building/land or use of the building/land in the recent past furthers the social well-being or social interests (cultural, recreational, or sporting) of the local community
- it’s realistic to think that now or in the next five years there could continue to be primary use of the building/land which will further the social well-being or social interests of the local community, whether or not in the same way as before
Once an asset is listed, owners can’t dispose of it without:
- letting the local authority know that they intend to sell the asset or grant a lease of more than 25 years
- waiting until the end of a six-week “interim moratorium” period if the local authority doesn’t receive a request from a community interest group to be treated as a potential bidder
- waiting until the end of a six-month “full moratorium” period if the local authority does receive a request from a community interest group to be treated as a potential bidder
The owner doesn’t have to sell the asset to the community group.
History of plans to sell Ripon Spa Baths
- 24 February: Ripon Spa Baths up for sale amid housing fears
- 8 March: For sale sign on Ripon’s Spa Baths
- 9 March: Ripon City Council unanimously agrees urged action to prevent sale
- 5 May: Harrogate Borough Council confirms plans to sell, saying “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.”