Bath Rugby submit plans to redevelop historic Recreation Ground

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Bath Rugby has unveiled plans for a redevelopment of its historic Recreation Ground in the centre of the city.

The club's attempts to redevelop the site have been derailed on several occasions with campaign groups opposing numerous planning proposals.

There were also documents, dating back to 1922, that the groups claim protects the site from being used for any commercial value.

The club was given the green light when the Supreme Court ruled in its favour in 2022.

The current stadium facilities have a capacity of 14,500 and date back to the 1950s.

The new proposals would see that capacity increased to around 18,000, and include a regeneration of the riverside area with a cafe, club shop and a museum for the community.

The new plans would also see the riverside area completely redeveloped.

What was the 1922 Covenant that prevented Bath Rugby redeveloping their stadium?

The 1922 Covenant was drawn up between Francis William Forester, Brinsley John Hamilton Fitzgerald, Arthur Brinsley Fitzgerald and The Bath and Country Recreation Ground Company Ltd which imposed covenants on the Rec which could, if valid, stop development on the land.

Bath Rugby's lawyers had challenged the covenant in 2018, arguing that it was not enforceable.

Courts ruled in favour of the club deciding to reject an appeal from campaign groups who were opposed to development on the site.

Bath Rugby submitted plans for their new stadium today.

'A significant milestone in the history of this club'

One of the main reasons for the redevelopment is to protect its long-term future financially.

Some of the stadium's current stands are temporary structures and the club's chief executive told ITV News that it pays around £1 million every season on them alone.

Rugby clubs in the top division have struggled financially in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic and there had been concerns that if plans could not be agreed the club could be forced to move out of the city.

Speaking on the plans Bath Rugby's Chief Executive Tarquin McDonald said it was a 'significant milestone in the club's history'.

"We are absolutely delighted to have submitted our proposals," he said.

"This is the culmination of many years of collaboration, listening and refining, which we now believe delivers the world-class facility that Bath Rugby and the wider city deserves.

"We absolutely want to stay in the centre of this city but if we are unable to develop this stadium on this site for the club it does call in to question our ability to remain here which would be tragic for the club and also tragic for the city.

"This redevelopment is central in the club's vision for the future and our aim of staying in the centre of Bath, our home of 125 years."

Bath and North East Somerset Council will now review the club's application.