A council says it will not attempt an expensive refurbishment of Ripon Spa Baths and will instead back a private investor’s vision to convert the building into a modern hospitality venue.

The baths, which date back to 1905, were closed by Harrogate Borough Council two years ago and put up for sale due to the new Jack Laugher Leisure and Wellness Centre opening on Dallamires Lane.

Ripon City Council then made a successful bid to designate the historic baths as an Asset of Community Value.

Its new status means it must be used for the community and is protected from a change of use or demolition.

It also gave the city council the right to bid for the building, which it previously indicated it was considering.

However, Ripon-based developer Sterne Properties came forward last year and has plans to strip out the building to create a new hospitality facility for the city.

Council leader Andrew Williams told a meeting last week that if the city council were to spearhead a refurbishment it could be “very complicated and very risky financially” so it would not take forward its interest any further.

Cllr Williams said: “We know there is the involvement of a potential private sector investor who has taken other redundant Ripon buildings and brought them back into real positive use that has benefitted the local economy.

Ripon Spa Baths

Ripon Spa Baths

“The prudent thing to do is not to take the risk for our precept payers and saddle them with a project that could cost millions and millions. It’s very easy to get a building project underway then find costs run away from you.

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“We’re seeking to have another meeting with the private investor and we will work with them to deliver a site fitting for Ripon.”

At the same meeting, councillors also agreed to write to North Yorkshire Council to ask the authority to build a learner pool for pre-school age children as the Jack Laugher centre was built without one.

Parents who formed Ripon Pool Action Group have campaigned for a learner pool in the city for several years and last year published a survey that found there are over 1,000 children of pre-school age living in the Ripon area.

Cllr Pauline McHardy, who on Harrogate Borough Council was an outspoken critic of the leisure centre project in Ripon, said she backed the bid to build a learner pool.

She said: ”I raised this at Harrogate council and said it was disgusting they couldn’t find money for the learner pool.”