Watchdog calls off judicial review proposal
Prohibitive costs have forced a heritage watchdog to cancel its judicial review to stop student flats being built at Bath Cricket Club. The bill could have been tens of thousands of pounds if Bath Preservation Trust lost the case so it is instead launching a “fighting fund” for future legal challenges. The civic charity opposed Bath and North East Somerset Council’s “flawed and unjustified” decision to approve plans for 136 student flats at the club. Donors backed the legal challenge but it concluded that the financial risk was too great. Bath Preservation Trust chief executive Caroline Kay said: “There is a wide body of opinion in Bath that the council made the wrong decision, a decision that we saw as unjustified, flawed and not in the interests of people of Bath as a whole or the character of the World Heritage Site and, importantly, against the recommendations of its own officers. “However it is financially prohibitive for small but informed civic charities like ourselves to compete against the financial resources of developers or public authorities determined to fight their corner in making these sorts of challenge. “Purpose-built student accommodation is beyond the means of many students and so does not help the housing crisis. “In terms of the other claimed benefits, we hope that cricketers young and old, not just members of Bath Cricket Club, are able to enjoy the new cricket facilities in due course if this development does go ahead, but very much regret that the club could not conceive of a more restrained and less overbearing way of providing new sports facilities, one that would be of genuine benefit to Bath residents and of a scale, massing and design that BPT would have been happy to support.” The fighting fund “will be ringfenced and used only to launch future legal challenges against poor or irrational planning decisions in Bath as and when they occur”. B&NES Council declined to comment. Bath Cricket Club was approached for comment. Visit www.crowdjustice.com/case/ fightingfund to contribute to the fighting fund.