Councillors agreed unanimously last night on the need for urgent action to prevent the Grade II listed building from being sold for residential development.
They rallied to a call from council leader Andrew Williams, who said:
“We cannot let Harrogate Borough Council sell the spa baths from under our noses.”
Councillor Mike Chambers, who sits on both Ripon City Council and Harrogate Borough Council, representing Ripon Spa, said:
“We need to get this sorted now.”
Cllr Chambers, who is Harrogate Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Safer Communities, added:
“It is clear that Harrogate Borough Council wants a capital receipt for this building and we must approach them and find out exactly what they have planned.”
Councillor Pauline McHardy said:
“Harrogate is trying to rush a sale through. We need to have detailed consultation and time to consider the future use of this asset that belongs to the city.”
A motion put forward by Cllr Williams, calling on Harrogate Borough Council to ensure the spa complex remains in public use as a community facility, was supported by all members.
It was also agreed to arrange a meeting with Ripon Civic Society and all other interested parties to investigate options.
If deemed necessary, after that meeting, the city council will look to appoint specialist consultants to advise on the development of heritage assets for community use.
Cllr 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, with developments such as Clotherholme coming on stream.”
Ripon Civic Society has already stated that it favours development Spa complex for the NHS – in line with the neighbourhood plan for the city.
Councillor Stephen Craggs believes that the building should be developed as a facility for young people in Ripon. He said:
“This is a once in a generation opportunity and we must get it right.”
For sale signs are already in place at the spa baths.
A statement issued by Harrogate Borough Council said the building is being replaced with a new six-lane swimming pool as part of an extended and refurbished Ripon Leisure Centre.
A Harrogate Borough Council spokesperson said:
“Ripon Spa Baths has served the community well over the years.
“The future sale, and redevelopment of the listed building, would allow this local asset to be redeveloped (subject to planning approval), retain key features and remain as a city landmark.”