Bath Rugby seeks temporary stands extension amid new stadium delay

English Premiership rugby union club Bath has submitted an application to continue using temporary stands at its Recreation Ground for a further two years as it continues tackling the challenges involved in building a new stadium at the site.

The temporary stands have been in place at the Recreation Ground for 15 years, boosting its capacity to 14,500, with the east stand coming down each summer. The existing temporary permissions to use the stands is due to expire on May 30, but Bath said it has submitted an application to Bath and North East Somerset Council to continue to utilise them.

The club said in a statement: “These applications, if approved, will allow the club to continue to operate at The Rec as it does presently for another two years. This will allow time for Stadium for Bath to submit their full planning application in 2020 and for it to go through the planning process.”

Stadium for Bath, the group behind the new stadium, in October announced final revisions to the venue design ahead of a planning submission it hopes to make early this year. The revisions were announced following what Stadium for Bath described as “extensive consultation” with residents and representatives of the city.

The 18,000-seat stadium will be built on the same site as the Recreation Ground. In July, Stadium for Bath said it was targeting a completion date of summer 2022 – nearly a year later than originally planned.

It was originally envisaged that building work would start during the 2019-20 season, but Stadium for Bath has had to meet multiple challenges in developing the project. The city of Bath is a World Heritage Site, with the new stadium having to tie in to this status, while the creation of a new car park has raised questions when the council has declared a climate emergency and is introducing a clean air zone.

In a statement concerning the temporary stands application, Bath Rugby added to the Somerset Live website that a legal dispute with the Charity Commission over ownership of the Recreation Ground has delayed the whole process.

Bath said: “It was hoped that further progress would have been made on the Stadium for Bath before the expiry of the current temporary permissions but the extended Charity Commission process has resulted in delays. No changes are planned to the existing site setup.”

Image: Bath Rugby