Crumbling South London swimming baths abandoned for almost a decade will remain empty for even longer after a developer ran out of money to refurbish them.

Ladywell Playtower in Lewisham has been vacant since 2004 when it stopped being used as a community centre.

Last Autumn, Lewisham Council approved plans to turn the Grade-II listed Victorian baths into a four-screen cinema and 33 homes.

News Shopper: CGI of how Ladywell Tower would look after refurbishmentCGI of how Ladywell Tower would look after refurbishment

But the developer behind the renovation, Guildmore, has now told the council it can’t begin work on the project until it finds extra cash. 

Lewisham deputy mayor Brenda Dacres revealed the bad news in a response to a public question about the building’s future submitted ahead of a Lewisham Council meeting on Wednesday (September 27). 

Cllr Dacres wrote: “Work has not yet begun on the development. The developer with whom the council has agreed a long lease for the restoration and redevelopment of the Playtower site – Guildmore – informed the council recently of the challenges they are facing in delivering the scheme. 

“Fast growing costs and rising interest rates have significantly heightened the cost of financing the development.

News Shopper: Ladywell Playtower as it looked in 1905Ladywell Playtower as it looked in 1905

"The impact of this is that Guildmore are not currently in a position to bring the Playtower scheme forward at this stage without securing additional funding or an alternative model of financing.”

Cllr Dacres added that Guildmore was still committed to the Playtower’s renovation and was working with the council to find a solution, without changing the plans for the building.

Ladywell Playtower was opened as a swimming pool in 1884, but the public baths closed in 1965.

The building, which takes its name from its distinctive water tower, is currently infested with pigeons and has broken windows and crumbling walls.

Historic England has placed Ladywell Playtower on its at-risk buildings list. 

Guldmore’s plans for the building would see one of its pool tanks turned into the main cinema, with three other screens for up to 300 people fitted elsewhere in the former baths.

Two blocks containing 33 private homes would also be built on the site.