Fears for abandoned Wolverhampton swimming baths targeted by vandals and arsonists

An abandoned Grade II Listed swimming baths site in Wolverhampton has been described as a hotspot for antisocial behaviour after the latest dramatic arson incident.

The former Heath Town Leisure Centre, which was the scene of a fire last night
The former Heath Town Leisure Centre, which was the scene of a fire last night

Thirty firefighters descended upon the old Heath Town swimming baths following reports of a fire at 6.20pm on Thursday.

The fire had started to spread to the first floor, affecting around a third of the building in all.

Crews managed to bring the fire under control by around 7pm, and it was confirmed to be out by 9.30pm.

A nearby resident who gave her name as Sarah said the building has been a trouble spot for some time and that she doesn't feel safe walking through the area with her children.

She said: "It is an old building which has been left empty, this has been going on for years.

"However around three weeks ago we noticed teenagers on the roof of it.

"Then they have also been getting inside the building.

"One day I was working home and I could hear crashing and banging, it sounded like a car crash to be honest.

"They had smashed all the top windows of the building.

"My biggest problem with this is I walk through the area to take my kids to school, and my kids don’t like walking there now."

Heath Town Swimming Baths and Library has been closed and the building unused since 2003.

Last year, plans to turn the dilapidated former swimming pool into a major conference, wedding and banqueting were unveiled.

The windows were smashed at the Grade II Listed building

Conservative Councillor Udey Singh said: "It’s incredibly disappointing and sad to see the former Heath Town Baths set on fire in broad daylight.

"The Heath Town Baths has long been targeted by vandals and we’ve repeatedly sought guarantees over the security of the site.

"Last night we saw perhaps the ultimate security fail.

"As a Grade II Listed building I hope that it can be restored as part of the redevelopment and that this part of Wolverhampton’s history will not be lost."

Wolverhampton Council has moved to condemn the actions of the vandals and reiterated the intentions are for the building to be brought back into use.

Councillor Steve Simkins, Wolverhampton Council's cabinet member for city economy, said: "We are appalled by the shameful actions of those responsible for this suspected arson and hope they are caught and dealt with.

"It appears trespassers illegally gained access, despite best efforts to secure the site.

"I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the fire crews who contained the fire to a limited area on the ground.

"This resulted in smoke damage inside the building, with the full extent of damage caused currently being assessed. The site has been secured again today and will be inspected on a daily basis.

The former Heath Town Baths

"As a council, we are committed to bringing the site of the historic former Heath Town Baths and Library back into use and are working closely with preferred developer Gaddu Associates to support its plans.

"This is a private-led scheme which enjoys strong community support and will see the refurbishment of the Grade-II listed building into a multi-purpose conference/wedding/banqueting centre, with associated community uses.

"A number of surveys and reports have recently been done by the developer which paves the way for a formal planning application to be submitted once a transport assessment has been completed.

"The council remains fully committed to seeing this historic building put back into beneficial use for the local community and wider city.

"We will continue to work with the developer as it brings plans for the site forward and progresses them in the near future."

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