Doncaster’s St James’ baths site set to be sold off

St James' Leisure Centre in Doncaster.
St James' Leisure Centre in Doncaster.
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Controversial plans have been approved which could lead to Doncaster’s historic St James’ baths being sold off by cash-strapped council chiefs.

Members of the authority’s cabinet yesterday approved plans to dispose of the listed town centre site to help meet Government-imposed funding cuts of £109 million by 2017.

Doncaster Council has drafted up a list of 33 buildings – including the historic St James’ in Waterdale – which could be sold, leased or bulldozed to help offset cash shortages.

There will now be a consultation period in which councillors and interested parties will discuss how to move the scheme forward.

St James’ dates back to 1932 and was formerly used as one of the country’s last remaining Turkish Baths. It is Grade II-listed and protected from demolition, but has been closed since September 2013.

Mayor Jones said the council cannot afford to invest the £2m needed to improve St James’ and told the cabinet meeting: “This is about utilising our premises for the benefit of all.”

But the move was criticised by former mayor Peter Davies, who said before the meeting: “The council cannot be trusted to protect Doncaster’s heritage.”

A report by Peter Dale, council director of regeneration and environment, said the buildings earmarked are either empty or used less than 25 per cent of the time.

Other prominent buildings include the former Doncaster Bloodstocks Sales building, Elmfield House in South Parade and the Beckett Road Centre in Wheatley. The buildings cost the authority about £526,000 per year to maintain. This saving would go towards a total saving of £5.6m by 2017 and into the broader plan to save £109m over the next three years.