Deal close in bid to sell major Coventry landmark that has been empty for years

The ‘elephant’ – part of Coventry Sports and Leisure Centre – could soon be under new ownership

Coventry City Council is in advanced talks over the sale of a landmark building that has lay dormant for years. The local authority says it is close to selling part of Coventry Sports and Leisure Centre, known locally as ‘Cov Baths’, which is said to have cost the taxpayer around £1.6 million in maintenance fees since it closed in February 2020.

Jim O’Boyle, the council’s jobs and regeneration chief, said the leisure centre part of the complex, often referred to as ‘the elephant’, was attracting major interest and that a deal could soon be in the offing. “We are now in detailed discussion with a potential operator for the elephant and we’re going through some conversations with them,” he told CoventryLive.

“We have to agree on certain contractual issues, but we hope to make an announcement about that in the not-too-distant future.” The elephant, a dry sports centre bridging Cox Street, links to the swimming complex via a glass-walled walkway.

It opened in 1976, ten years after the swimming pools launched. The Central Baths building was Grade II listed in 1997, but that did include the Elephant.

Listed status is said to have made Central Baths an onerous proposition for potential developers, although there has been a degree of interest. Conversely, the elephant is said to be a much more attractive plot because there are fewer restrictions and legalities to adhere to.

“We’ve had interest, but no one has come forward that would be a serious contender for taking on the ownership and running of this (swimming) facility,” Mr O’Boyle added. “It’s a difficult building. Most developers would say let’s knock it down and build something in its place.

Central Baths had three pools with the main one used for family splash sessions. The Olympic-sized pool held international events and was the only one of its kind in the region before it closed. CoventryLive Readers have demanded Coventry Sports and Leisure Centre be ‘knocked down’, with some branding is an ‘eyesore’.