Maindee pools go up for auction (WalesOnline – 21st November 2009)

THIS art-deco building could prove the answer to those leisure centre blues.

Swimming lane rage, changing room embarrassment and gym class competitiveness could all be banished with one fall of the auction hammer.

Because fitness fans seeking the peace and quiet of exercising in private could now rip up their gym memberships and own their own exclusive leisure complex for just over £50,000. Or could they?

This substantial turquoise grade-II listed building has come on the market in Newport’s Maindee area, with potential for redevelopment. It is due to go for auction next month with a guide price of just £52,000. Entering through a large reception, buyers would get three pools, a gym, changing rooms plus inner halls, a full-circle gallery, a pump room and offices for their money. There are also art-deco ceilings and tiling.

But once bought, the price is likely to escalate as it is in dire need of a revamp – the former baths having suffered severe internal fire damage after twice being targeted by arsonists last year and vandalised.

The pools, between Victoria Avenue and Albert Avenue, opened in 1938, and finally closed in December 2005, being replaced by the new pool at Spytty. Listed status means the building’s front facade and internal foyer cannot be changed. Now boarded up to prevent more vandalism, Maindee Baths were bought at auction last May with an attached three-bedroomed house for £76,000 by a 38-year-old father of one from Newport, who had ambitions to turn the former baths into a multi-cultural centre for community use. He plans to keep the house, but selling the baths could open up opportunities for business or Olympic ambitions, say experts.

Personal trainer Steve Hughes said the site would be a perfect location for a new private fitness centre.

“You could have a gym with spa facilities because of the two pools,” he said. “As long as the building is all right structurally it seems like a good buy for the money. I wouldn’t buy it myself because it’s not in my area, but someone could really turn it round. But if it’s Grade II listed it’ll take a lot of hard work.”

Jason Cave, who runs JJ Fitness & Wellbeing Ltd, said, “With less than 900 days to go the 2012 Olympic, the Grade II listed building of the former Maindee Baths should be developed into a health and fitness development centre for emerging athletes aged between 13 and 18. Why shouldn’t Newport have an Olympian? By providing a ‘one stop shop’ solution, talented children could be given the support and training they need all under one roof.

“There are potential Olympians in schools in Newport and surrounding areas but these children are not given the opportunity to develop their skills.”

Paul Fosh Auctions point out that any development would be subject to planning permission.

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