COVENTRY City Council has been urged not to ‘forget about the Elephant in the room’ as the clock ticks towards four years since an iconic Grade II listed city building was last open for use.
Coventry Central Baths and Elephant Building has been closed since February 2020 with developers Rainier Developments Ltd working on plans to bring it back into use, but as of yet, nothing has been brought forward.
The council entered into an exclusivity agreement with Rainier Developments Ltd weeks before the closure, meaning the firm had to bring forward a delivery strategy for an ‘acceptable development.’
In September, the city council cabinet member for jobs, regeneration and climate change, Coun Jim O’Boyle, told the Observer plans were still being developed by Rainier but he hoped an announcement could be made within weeks.
But this week the Observer contacted Rainier Developments which said it was not in a position to release any information about the site.
In August 2020, the Coventry Citizens Party started a petition calling for the Elephant Building to be transformed into an arts and exhibition centre.
Its founder Ian Rogers said: “The council keeps saying it has exciting plans for the Elephant but these never seem to materialise.
“I would still like to see the Elephant used as a ballroom to rival Blackpool and for the old swimming baths to become a new business or convention centre, but this requires vision from the council and funding it does not have.
“The Elephant in the room couldn’t be more obvious but city councillors continue to ignore it.”
In April, it was revealed £912,955 had been spent by the city council on the maintenance, security and utilities at the Sports and Leisure Centre on Fairfax Street from when it closed in February 2020 to January 2023.
The council said since the building was Grade II listed it had a legal obligation to maintain it.
Coun Jim O’Boyle said: “It’s really simple for anyone to have a fanciful idea for a building – but it needs to stack up financially.
“We are working with Rainier Developments who are well placed to secure a user for the site.
“Their work is on-going – but as soon as there is something to say we will make sure that everyone knows.
“However, there is no doubt that the site, as interesting and as unique as it is, presents lots of challenges – another reason that we need to look to secure private sector interest to bring it back to life.”