Old public baths to be sold off

Former swimming baths on the edge of Newcastle City Centre are to be put back on the market for the second time in less than a year.

Last April Newcastle City Council announced it was putting the derelict Gibson Street Baths on the market after it became vacant.

Weeks later the authority took it off the market after a community group applied for it be listed as an Asset of Community Value. The nomination was successful and the baths were listed as an Asset of Community Value in July.

Now the building is set to be disposed of for a second time as the cash-strapped authority continues to dispose of properties which are surplus to its requirements and cost it money to keep secure.

As an Asset of Community Value the building is now subject to the terms of the Localism Act 2011. The council must announce it is putting the building on the market and Community Interest Groups are given six weeks to express an interest in the building.  During this six weeks the authority cannot dispose of the building unless it is to a Community Interest Group. 

If during the six week period no Community Interest Group expresses any interest in the building, the authority can then freely dispose of the building.  However, if a Community Interest Group does express an interest, then they have a further four-and-a-half months to submit a bid for the building, including a viable business and funding plan.

Once again, during this extended period, the authority cannot dispose of the building unless it is to a Community Interest Group. After this period ends, the building can then be auctioned off.

Cabinet Member for Investment and Development, Cllr Ged Bell, said: “Gibson Street Baths was one of the earliest public baths in the country and is still a very prominent building.

“Sadly, it’s in a bit of a state, and the council is keen to pass it on to another organisation with the resources to restore it to its former glory – sadly that is not going to be the council with our declining budgets.  We are therefore serving notice of our intention to dispose of the property.”

The building was opened in 1907 and is believed to be among the oldest public bath houses in Britain. The interior is laid out as a large swimming pool in a domed glazed-roof hall, along with former wash house with a domed ceiling. On the first floor there is an area that once contained individual baths.

It closed in 1965 as public baths and until recently was being used as a badminton club. The building is now in a state of disrepair but still shows signs of its grand past through ornate tiled panels.

The property is suited to a variety or mix of uses, such as business, leisure, residential or entertainment.

Whoever takes on the building will need access to considerable funds. The building is largely derelict and needs significant investment.