Chal­lenge to flats de­ci­sion scrapped

Western Daily Press - - News -

PRO­HIB­I­TIVE costs have forced a her­itage watch­dog to can­cel a ju­di­cial re­view chal­leng­ing a de­ci­sion to ap­prove the build­ing of stu­dent flats at Bath Cricket Club.

The bill could have run into tens of thou­sands of pounds if Bath Preser­va­tion Trust had lost the case, so it is in­stead launch­ing a “fight­ing fund” for fu­ture le­gal chal­lenges.

The 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 the trust con­cluded the fi­nan­cial risk was too great.

Its 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.”

She said the trust did not be­lieve the stu­dent block would “lib­er­ate” ac­com­mo­da­tion for fam­ily hous­ing “de­spite the claims made by some coun­cil­lors in their jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for this devel­op­ment”.

Bath Cricket Club has per­mis­sion to build 136 stu­dent flats and re­de­velop its in­door train­ing fa­cil­ity, which, along with a 128-space car park, forms the foot­print for the new build­ing. It will be on stilts, so 108 park­ing spa­ces can be pro­vided at ground level.

B&NES Coun­cil of­fi­cers had “sig­nif­i­cant” con­cerns about flood­ing, the loss of trees and the de­sign of the scheme in the city’s “green heart” when the plans were sub­mit­ted.

But plan­ning com­mit­tee mem­bers ap­proved the devel­op­ment in March.

A trust spokesper­son said: “Al­though donors had con­trib­uted to the chal­lenge, the do­na­tions were not suf­fi­cient to cover the po­ten­tial tens of thou­sands of pounds costs and li­a­bil­i­ties (in the event of los­ing the case), since the out­come of the case could not be guar­an­teed.”

The fight­ing fund “will be ring-fenced and used only to launch fu­ture le­gal chal­lenges”.

B&NES Coun­cil de­clined to com­ment. Bath Cricket Club had not re­sponded to a re­quest for a com­ment at the time of go­ing to press.

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