Stadium for Bath scraps plans for underground car park at The Rec

An artist's impression of what the new grounds could look like. Credit: Bath Rugby

Bath Rugby has scrapped plans for a car park underneath the pitch of its new stadium.

The club released an update on the Stadium for Bath project, which has now been on hold for more than a year as a result of the pandemic.

The project aims to create an 18,000-capacity permanent stadium on the famous piece of land at The Recreation Ground, including a revamped riverside area inside the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Bath Rugby had argued the 550 space short-stay car park was a fundamental part of its redevelopment plans, protecting the pitch from flooding and providing the financial sustainability of the development, claiming it would not increase journeys into the city as spaces are due to be lost from other car parks due to development.

Restrictions built into the deeds to the ground have cause issues for the project so far. Credit: Bath Rugby

However the club has confirmed the public car park, which would fall inside the new Clean Air Zone (CAZ), will not be going ahead as the city looks to become more carbon neutral.

In a statement the club said: "The raising of the pitch in previous designs created the space for a public car park much like the adjacent parking under the Leisure Centre, with the provision of parking at the Rec compensating for the loss of other city-centre parking sites allocated for development and contributing to the financial sustainability of the development. 

"During this period of reflection we have identified a satisfactory design solution to mitigate long-term challenges relating to flood risks and the water table which do not require the full raising of the pitch." 

The Clean Air Zone came into force in Bath in March.

Nodding to efforts to create a greener city it continued: "The world has changed over the course of the pandemic. We no longer believe it is appropriate to base the sustainability of the stadium and the club on car parking. We will therefore not be including an under-pitch car park in future proposals for redevelopment at the Rec."

It comes just a month after the Clean Air Zone in the UK outside of London was brought into force in Bath.

The CAZ aims to reduce carbon emissions in the city by encouraging less people to drive through it with the introduction of daily charges for certain high-polluting vehicles.

While future plans for the project have not been revealed yet, this alternation could also potentially lower the height of proposed development which was another significant area of complaint from opponents.

Bath Rugby have played on the Rec since 1894 and structures which form part of the current stadium have been in place for decades.

The club has lost millions during the pandemic. Credit: PA

The club currently have a lease to remain at the Rec until 2070.

However the club currently operate a temporary stand on the land and bring in flood lights in for games which costs the club around £1 million a year in operating costs.

The development of a new stadium has been fraught with controversy since its inception, with an ongoing battle over the 1922 Covenants written into the deed of the grounds.

If found to be legally sound, the covenants could prevent new structures from being built on the grounds of The Rec.

An appeal hearing is due to be heard in Autumn 2021.


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