Historic spa could be protected by community

The Friends of Birley Spa
The Friends of Birley Spa

A community group fighting to save a historic spa in Hackenthorpe are hoping it will soon be protected as an asset of community value.

The protection, which would last for five years, would mean residents would be given six months notice to raise money and bid for Brilely Spa Bath House before it is sold.

The council put it up for auction earlier this year, saying it had been left derelict for many years after thousands was spent revamping it with money from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2002.

Abby Beckett-Smith, of the Friends of Birley Spa, has led the campaign to keep it in the community’s hands.

“Birley Spa is a hidden gem that needs to be seen by a wider public,” she said.

“It is in a rather sad and sorry state at the moment but if the spa and grounds were restored, it could look beautiful again.”

Birley Spa Bath House is a Grade II-listed Victorian building that, over its 176 years, has been the site of wedding receptions, community meetings, a pleasure ground for children, heritage tours and boating.

More than 900 people signed a petition calling for the council to look at putting it back into public use.

With the support of MP Clive Betts, the auction was postponed for further consideration.

But it has been more than a month since talks were promised. Ms Beckett-Smith said: “We have asked for a meeting with the council which we are in the process of arranging, and we are hoping negotiations will start fairly soon.

“There won’t be any magic-bullet solution straight away, but it is good they are finally sitting down to talk.”

She said there is enough renewed interest in the site to make it a vibrant hub for the community again and as a group they have already come up with ideas to get it back into use.

Councillor Jim Steinke, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and community safety, said he is hoping come to a decision soon on whether it should become an asset of community value.

He said: “We understand the strength of feeling from the local community about Birley Spa Bath House.

“We will be speaking to local community groups to explore options for the future of the building. In the meantime we have received an application for the bath house to be listed as an asset of community value – I have met with ward councillors, officers and considered all the evidence and a decision will be made as soon as possible.

“We want members of the community to be involved and informed and have written to the Friends of Birley Spa to arrange a meeting to discuss the building’s future.”