Plans to transform derelict Wolverhampton baths will be reviewed by council chiefs

Plans to transform Wolverhampton’s derelict Heath Town Baths and Library into a banqueting hall, day nursery and conference centre are to be reviewed by city council bosses.

The former Heath Town Baths and Library building in Tudor Road. Photo: Google
The former Heath Town Baths and Library building in Tudor Road. Photo: Google

The grade II building has lain empty and unused since 2003 and is now dilapidated, having been repeatedly hit by acts of vandalism. Arsonists also targeted the premises in June.

Over the years a number of planned regeneration schemes – including a bid by Wolverhampton Olympic gold medal-winning former javelin thrower Tessa Sanderson to turn the building into a sports centre in 2014 – all failed to get off the ground.

Developers Gaddu Associates, which has carried out a full consultation on the plan, is proposing to fully refurbish the Tudor Road premises for a mix of community uses. It has been recognised as a building of community value in the Heathfield Park Neighbourhood Plan.

Director Pavan Gaddu said: “We are delighted to have reached this important stage in the building’s history after working with Heathfield Park Community Action Network to understand the needs of the local people.

“There are still challenges ahead but the submission of the planning application crystallises our vision for the site and is another step towards ensuring the building will be brought back to its former place at the heart of the Heath Town community.

“Our proposals involve the restoration of the whole building and will respect the historic and architectural importance and innovation which was shown at the time of its construction.”

Councillor Stephen Simkins, the council’s cabinet member for city economy, added: “The much-loved Heath Town Baths and Library remain a priority for the council and in particular the ward councillors. The council remains fully committed to seeing this historic building put back into beneficial use for the local community and wider city.”

When it first opened in 1932, the property housed two swimming pools, a wash house and a library. It has been on the statutory list of buildings of architectural and historic importance since 2000.

A statement from JBVJ Architects, submitted along with the application, said: “Heath Town Baths and Library has significant value to the local community as it was one of the first buildings in the region to offer community bathing, washing facilities and a laundry washhouse.

“The building is the only surviving early example of the local authority’s efforts to bring several essential community services together in one central building, now called a ‘community hub’.

“It is a prominent heritage landmark and is located adjacent to the Holy Trinity Church, cemetery and Lychgate, Alms Houses and War Memorial in Heath Town Park. The building is of national importance and has similarities with Royal Horticultural Hall designs.”

A license agreement is in place with Gaddu Associates to take early occupation of the former library, which will assist with ensuring an active 24-hour presence on the site to address any anti-social activity.

The planning and listed building application was validated last month and the full lease of 125 years will be signed as soon as possible after the application is approved.

A full report will be presented to the council’s economy and growth scrutiny panel next Wednesday (November 30) and the application will go before the planning committee in January 2023.

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