‘Work­ing to­gether to achieve best re­sults’

Bath Chronicle - - NEWS -

The land­lords of the Rec re­ceived 67 ques­tions when they held their an­nual meet­ing last month. Cov­er­ing a va­ri­ety of sub­jects, they came from six peo­ple who ob­ject to a new 18,000-ca­pac­ity ‘com­mu­nity’ sta­dium for Bath Rugby to play in on the fa­mous piece of land in the cen­tre of the city. The mem­bers of the pub­lic asked Bath Recre­ation Ltd about the covenants on the Rec and the in­ten­tions of the char­i­ta­ble body for­merly known as Bath Recre­ation Ground Trust in re­la­tion to the pro­posed new sta­dium and their char­i­ta­ble ob­jects. Some ques­tions ap­peared to threaten le­gal ac­tion. The board of direc­tors (for­merly known as trustees) re­sponded to the ques­tions they felt were most per­ti­nent and rel­e­vant to their work as a char­ity and re­buffed ac­cu­sa­tions or in­sin­u­a­tions made against them. By way of back­ground, in 1922 the Rec and land off North Pa­rade was con­veyed by the trustees of the Forester es­tate to the Bath and County Recre­ation Ground Com­pany Ltd for £6,050. The deed of con­veyance in­cluded re­stric­tive covenants on what the land could be used for, which came to be known as ‘the 1922 covenants’. On Fe­bru­ary 1, 1956, the Rec was con­veyed to the mayor, al­der­men and cit­i­zens of the City of Bath (the cor­po­ra­tion) for £11,155. Again, there were covenants per­tain­ing to what the land could be used for, in­clud­ing that it should be for “out­door recre­ational use”. Doubts over the le­gal ef­fect of the 1956 con­veyance were set­tled when, in 2002, the High Court de­clared the Rec should be man­aged by a char­i­ta­ble trust, with the coun­cil as its trustee, af­ter be­ing man­aged by the coun­cil since the 1970s. The Rec has been the home of the rugby club since 1894. When the am­a­teur club known as Bath FC be­came pro­fes­sional Bath Rugby in 1996, they were an ac­cepted, tech­ni­cal breach of the 1956 covenants. In 1995, they were granted a lease by the coun­cil to be ten­ants of the Rec un­til 2069. In De­cem­ber 2016, the First-tier Tri­bunal (Gen­eral Reg­u­la­tory Cham­ber - Char­ity) con­firmed that the then trust had the pow­ers of “ab­so­lute owner”. It can “sell, lease, li­cense or other­wise dis­pose of” all or any part of the Rec as it works to achieve its char­i­ta­ble ob­jec­tives. A Sta­dium for Bath spokesper­son said: “We be­lieve there is an op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate an ex­cep­tional place for ev­ery­one in Bath. “This can only hap­pen if we en­gage with and em­brace the views of peo­ple from across the com­mu­nity, in­clud­ing those who may have con­cerns about re­de­vel­op­ment. “We re­spect their views and con­tinue to com­mu­ni­cate with them di­rectly and in per­son. “We have al­ways said that the best out­come will be achieved through col­lab­o­ra­tion and work­ing to­gether with stake­hold­ers from across the city and es­pe­cially lo­cal res­i­dents. We look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing our en­gage­ment and the con­ver­sa­tions with peo­ple across the com­mu­nity.”

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