The Moseley Road baths conservation report has now been made public.
I will do a summary of the report tomorrow.
The press release that went with the report is as follows:
21 December 2007
Councillor Ray Hassall, Birmingham City Council’s Cabinet Member for Leisure Sport and Culture, is now in a position to make the feasibility study for Moseley Road Baths public following a recent briefing with Cabinet colleagues.
Feasibility StudyThe city council procured a feasibility study which was carried out by specialist consultants including Rodney Melville and Partners, the conservation architects responsible for the award-winning Town Hall refurbishment and experts in heritage building restoration.As part of the feasibility work the following two options were given estimated costs:
• The refurbishment of both pools. This is estimated to cost between £20.77m and £21.31m (dependent on phasing)
• The refurbishment of the bigger pool and an alternative use for the second pool. This was estimated to cost between £22.78m and £23.335m (dependent on phasing)
(The above figures do not include the cost of any potential capital borrowing)
The consultants, working with city council officers, recommended the second option – to re-open the larger pool (currently closed) and to use the other space for an alternative use, potentially training, health and for the local community. These other uses would have the benefit of providing an income which could help support swimming and also open the building up to members of the local community that currently do not use it.
Councillor Ray Hassall said: “Whilst the option to refurbish both pools appears to be cheaper, it would not be financially viable in terms of its running costs and such an option would require a continued level of very high subsidy – it is therefore not sustainable. The baths is one of the most expensive of all of the city council’s pools to run, and is currently costing more than £250,000 in subsidies every year. Therefore we need to ensure that any further money spent will not just upgrade the building but increase income levels and users.”
Following the recommendations the city council is now exploring how the preferred option could be delivered, including the possibility of transferring the building into a heritage trust, with some financial support from the council. Other local authorities have chosen this route – a good example is the former Victoria Road Baths in Manchester which was the winner of the BBC Restoration programme a few years ago.As a charitable organisation, a trust would be able to reclaim a large proportion of the business rates which can then be ploughed back into improving the facilities, as well as accessing funding not available to the city council.
Cllr Hassall added: “The two options will be viewed within the context of the sports facilities masterplan currently being carried out, which is part financed by Sport England. It is not an option to demolish Moseley Road Baths – it is both highly protected (in terms of its listed status) and much valued locally and I can re-iterate my absolute commitment to its retention. However, whilst it is unique, it cannot be looked at in isolation to our other facilities.I must stress that in order to protect it, it may mean changing its use and changing the way it operates but we will not be making any decisions on this until the sports masterplan work is complete and we have consulted with the local community in Balsall Heath and users of the facilities. We want to ensure that we have the right facilities, providing the right services where the local community needs them.”The feasibility study and the conservation report on Moseley Road Baths are now available at www.birmingham.gov.uk by following the link from the homepage.
Further information from media contact Emma Needle on 0121 303 3635Editor’s Notes
• £1.5m was spent on structural work at the baths two years ago to stop the building deteriorating further. This allowed the small pool to remain open.