25 February 2013, 12:14pm
We are incredibly grateful for the continued support we receive from supporters and the public with regard to the re-development situation at the Recreation Ground, and we wanted to give a quick update as there are a few concurrent activities presently on-going.
We are expecting the decision in April from the Charity Commission on the proposed lease swap involving the Lambridge training ground. They have appointed an independent reviewer following the publication of the scheme at the end of last year, with the aim being that the land at Lambridge will be available for use by the general public, offsetting the space we will have at the Rec.
The publication of the scheme followed 18 months after the consultation that the Recreation Ground Trust ran for the Commission, in which 85% of respondents supported their proposal. There was 87% support when they published the scheme, and it is this unprecedented response that has prompted the appointment of an independent reviewer.
In addition, as you are probably aware, an application has been made to have the Rec designated a Town and Village Green. The decision on this rests with Bath and North East Somerset Council, and we're hopeful of a positive resolution, but the Club is also allowed to respond, which we will be doing before the 25th February deadline.
The final area on which we are working is the 1922 restrictive covenants covering the Rec. Our legal advisors are confident that there is a strong case that these are no longer legally enforceable, but we will need to go to High Court to get a ruling to this effect, and will be writing to a number of residents around the Rec as part of this process.
In an interview with the Bath Chronicle, Bath Rugby Chairman, Bruce Craig, said: "The current Rugby Ground, especially the West Stand by the river, does not do justice to the City or the Rugby Club and we are really keen to improve it for everyone.
"We want to provide a world-class facility and buildings that the City and Club can be proud of, are appropriate and add to the beauty and splendour of Bath. It is a tough challenge but it is critical that we get it right. What we do needs to complement this unique and historic setting, and is for everyone in Bath, both now and for future generations.
"It is not only for players and supporters as it needs to work for the whole community and our own Bath Rugby Foundation. This is a project close to my heart and one I personally want to see come to fruition for the benefit of all.
"The Rec and the Club have both been important parts of the City and the wider community for years, and we want to maintain and enhance that, always recognising that it is an open space for all to enjoy."
Bath Rugby Chief Executive, Nick Blofeld, spoke to BRtv earlier to explain some of the problems in more detail, and the plans the Club have for the development at the Rec.
Mr Blofeld added: "There is a strategy and a process in place and we are making good progress against that, but we have to do things in a sequential way, we have to tick the boxes as we go along to make sure everything is done correctly. We don't want to take anything for granted.
"We are very grateful to everyone for their continuing support and patience."
We have appointed Capita Symonds as our project managers but as yet we cannot put a cost on the new arena. We can confirm there are no plans for nightclubs or any other kind of late-night entertainment. There will likely be a shop, a ticket office and a café.
Mr Blofeld said there would be a detailed consultation exercise and public exhibition once more detailed plans had been developed and the Charity Commission has given approval for the scheme.
"This is about the city of Bath as well as the Club. It's about consultation; it's not about imposing things. This is not going to be some massive, closed-off stadium, but a great facility for the whole community.
"Our focus will be on transforming that part of the city, even creating new views back to the Abbey and Pulteney Bridge.
"We are not going to be cutting corners".