New era dawns as tenant is chosen at Turkish Baths site

'Social and community value': The former Turkish Baths in Friars Walk, Lewes, which were opened in 1862
'Social and community value': The former Turkish Baths in Friars Walk, Lewes, which were opened in 1862

A new chapter is set to begin at the former Turkish Baths in Lewes after tenants were selected for the site.

Unity was the successful organisation in the tender process with Lewes District Council, which owns the historic venue in Friars Walk and is carrying out ongoing refurbishment there.

It will take on a new role as ‘The Unity Centre; Yoga, Well-being and The Arts’.

More than 2,000 people in Lewes signed a petition for the building to be a community space for the town, rather than a shop chain or large restaurant.

The petition was initiated by local Green Party councillor Joanna Carter, who was inspired by a growing need for accessible community spaces.

She said: “I’m really pleased that the Unity Centre for Yoga, Well-being and The Arts has got the lease for the historic Turkish Baths.

“Hundreds of local people signed a petition I started that persuaded the council that this public building should be occupied by an organisation with ‘social and community’ value, not just another restaurant.

“I think Unity ticks all the boxes: they are really committed to running a programme that is open to all from young to old, and they have great plans to offer pain relief, support and therapy especially to those who are disabled or suffering from long-term illnesses.

“I’m looking forward to seeing Unity bring the Turkish Baths back to life with yoga, martial arts, dance and something for everyone.”

Plans have been drawn up to convert the venue into a light and spacious studio, therapies and treatment space. It is intended to offer a large yoga studio for around 22 mats; a second studio/ community/ art room; two treatment rooms (bodywork/ talking therapies); a sauna; a flotation tank; a small tea room/ cafe; and a shop and gallery space.

Unity hopes to open later this year and has started a crowdfunding campaign for specialist equipment.