The historic Turkish Baths in Lewes will have up to £172,000 splashed on ‘essential maintenance and improvements’ in a new refurbishment, councillors agreed this week.
Members of the Lewes District Council Cabinet made the decision on Monday (June 26) to ensure the building meets modern building standards when it is let as planned
According to the council, The Turkish Baths do not currently meet the minimum requirements of laws governing energy use and conservation. The work will therefore improve the glazing, insulation, heating, ventilation and electrics.
Councillor Bill Giles, Cabinet Lead for Finance and Chair of the Strategic Property Board, said: “At a time when local authority finances are being stretched like never before, it is essential that we make the most of our assets for the benefit of our council tax payers.
“By undertaking this work now the property will realise a significantly greater return for the council when it is marketed. But we nevertheless recognise the needs of the local community with regards to such space.
“But we do have to make the place ready for occupation. We recognise that it is an important building and that is why we want to develop its use rather than simply selling it off.”
The future of the Turkish Baths has generated considerable interest locally and the council says it remains mindful of the needs of the arts community which has expressed interest for a building like the Turkish Baths in the town.
Councillor Giles added: “We have developed a process that will enable the newly created Strategic Property Board to take into account economic, regeneration and social values when we compare each bid.
“Whether bids are purely commercial or more focused on community use, their respective merits will receive the most detailed scrutiny and consideration. Our aim is to get the best value for money for the district whilst still considering the community and developmental needs of Lewes town and the district.
“But it remains clear that the building must be refurbished before any new user takes over.”
The historic Turkish Baths in Friars Walk closed in 1882. The building previously housed the council’s print unit but the service transferred to Eastbourne in 2015 and it has been empty since then.