Calls to repair old Bath House

Wetherby Civic Society has raised concerns over the state of the town’s historic Bath House.

Wednesday, 14th July 2021, 11:18 am
Coun Harry Chapman pictured at the Bath House when it was vandalised in 2019.

Peter Catton, Vice Chairman of the group, said that vandals smashed windows at the Grade 2 listed building in Jubilee Gardens three years ago and it has since been left ‘neglected’.

“We understand that three members of the Property Committee at Wetherby Town Council, were delegated to find a solution to providing shatterproof windows,” said Mr Catton.

“This they did about two years ago. Nothing happened and the Bathhouse remained boarded up.

“We note that a consultant was appointed to advise the council and that fees of £6,650 are provided for in the Council’s Project Budget, but no budget for restoring the windows.

“We have recently heard rumours that there are plans to install under floor heating in the bath area and other major changes which would destroy the historical authenticity of the building.

“What started as a simple window replacement which could have been completed two years ago, seems to have spiralled into a major project.”

Mr Catton said the Society is calling for clarification and assurances that nothing will be done to destroy the authenticity of the Bath House.

He added: “This building is of great significance to Wetherby Civic Society, as we were heavily involved in its restoration.”

“Will the council simply replace the broken windows whilst all this is resolved so that visitors can see the building as it was, rather than look like a neglected wreck like it has been for the past three years?” Turn to page 4

The group submitted questions to the town council meeting, held on Tuesday, and the town council confirmed to the Wetherby News that it is aware of the concerns.

“The Town Council’s Property Committee has been working on proposals for the Bath House for several years now, since councillors (two of whom are also members of the Civic Society) brought forward plans for improvements to the property, including a new, vandal resistant glazing solution,” said a spokesman.

“The windows remain the Town Council’s agreed priority for the building but when we were advised that the new glazing arrangement would need Listed Building Consent it seemed sensible to submit an application for all elements of the project.

“It was unanimously agreed to engage the services of a chartered surveyor who specialises in building conservation and is a member of the RICS Building Conservation Accreditation Scheme.

“The application was submitted in February 2021 and a decision is awaited.

“As the guardian of this special building the Town Council is seeking to ensure that the building remains safe, secure and can be enjoyed by the public today and in the future.”

The Town Council spokesman added that Leeds City Council’s Conservation department has said that subject to further information and minor design revision, the proposals for the Bath House are considered to be largely fine.

“However, even if consent is granted by Leeds City Council this does not necessarily commit the council to going ahead with all the proposed elements and in view of the feedback received a review of the project will be carried out,” added the Town Council spokesman.

And they added: “Whilst we share the Civic Society’s frustrations at the delays to the window repairs, it must be remembered that the Town Council manages this building together with the rest of its property portfolio and must prioritise areas where there are greater risks, or which enjoy greater public usage.

“The past 15 months have been unprecedented and so there have been other pressures on the Council’s resources over the course of the pandemic, but since the Bath House project’s inception we have delivered three new playgrounds, a town wi-fi system, new artisan market, a successful celebration of the para-cycling races, supported the construction of the Devil’s Toenail bike track, concluded the Neighbourhood Plan, mapped and surveyed all 550 of our trees and had proposals drawn up for works to the Town Hall which is in far greater need of maintenance.

“As life returns to normal we hope to move forwards quickly with the Bath House project, implementing the glazing solution as soon as listed building consent is granted.“