Developer’s vow over troubled baths conversion

October 31 2014

WORK has finally resumed on the £3m redevelopment of the Bristol North Baths, where a new surgery, hydrotherapy pool and library will be ready for use early next year.

WORK has finally resumed on the £3m redevelopment of the Bristol North Baths, where a new surgery, hydrotherapy pool and library will be ready for use early next year.

That's the pledge from the man behind the project, Kevin Batt, who has told Bishopston Voice that he is "totally committed" to the Gloucester Road development.

Mr Batt, director of Chatsworth Homes, has come under fire in recent months, following a six-month delay to building work on the long-awaited scheme. Some people have expressed doubts that the project will ever be finished.

Mr Batt said he was frustrated that Bristol City Council had called a halt in February after concerns were raised about the quality of the work being carried out at the Grade II listed building.

Consultants Capita were paid £40,000 to investigate and came up with a 139-page report detailing remedial works needed. It is understood that some of these involved changes to the specifications of the hydrotherapy pool, which is being created out of part of the former swimming pool.

Chatsworth Homes, which is being loaned the money by the council to redevelop the baths complex, returned to the site in September to begin the remedial works.

Mr Batt said more than 35 workers would be involved over the next few months to ensure the development was completed by early February next year.

Mr Batt said there had been "no real major problems" with the building project.

He added that the Care Quality Commission has also inspected the property, and no faults were found.

The Capita report for the council has not been made public.

Mr Batt told the Voice: "I was more than a little upset and disheartened that the council stopped the development - to say they over-egged it would be an understatement.

"I'm a perfectionist - I've always said that I'll never build anything, unless I'm willing to live in it. I'm going to make this building the best it can be.

"I have a long history with the Bristol North Baths - my wife and sons learned to swim here.

"We have always been committed to this development since day one, and still remain totally committed."

A Bristol City Council spokesman said: “The delay at this site has been unfortunate but absolutely necessary to ensure the best long-term outcome. We’ve been working with Capita and the developer Chatsworth Homes and a schedule of remedial works has been agreed and is being implemented. Workmen have now returned to the site and we are confident that the development will be completed to the required standard and finished by early 2015. It has been a complex process and we’re grateful for the continued patience of everyone involved or affected.”

The Bishopston Medical Practice is due to move into the revamped baths building next year and physiotherapist Keith James will occupy the hydrotherapy suite.
The library will be housed in a building next door, which will have ten flats above it and a car park beneath.

Mr James, who owns two practices in Westbury Park and Clifton, said he has become "frustrated and disillusioned" by the length of time it has taken to complete the project.

He said the progress of the development had been a "complete comedy of errors" and he feared further issues might emerge once the building is open.

Bristol North Baths, which opened in 1915, closed in 2005. Planning permission for the redevelopment was granted three years later but because of the recession work did not start until 2012.

Kevin Batt