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Bath Rugby to recommence stadium work following court ruling

English Premiership club Bath Rugby is set to resume work on its new stadium after a court ruled a 99-year-old restrictive covenant on the land of its current Recreation Ground home was not enforceable.

The ‘Stadium for Bath’ project will see a new 18,000-capacity stadium built on the site of the team’s Recreation Ground, its home since 1894.

The venue was originally due to be completed by the summer of 2022, but work was put on hold at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, while progress on the project has also been slowed by legal issues, including an historic restrictive covenant on the land.

The 1922 Covenants, agreed in April 1922, effectively banned the construction of any building on the land that would cause a “nuisance, annoyance or disturbance”, or otherwise impact the local community, with the exception of buildings already in place at that time, including the original Recreation Ground.

However, the Court of Appeal ruled that the 1922 Covenants were not enforceable, which incidentally overturned an initial court ruling in October of last year.

As such, this clears the way for Bath to resume efforts on the new stadium, with the club hoping to recommence work in the New Year.

Bath Rugby chief executive, Tarquin McDonald, said: “We are delighted with the ruling and can now focus on bringing forward revised proposals for a new stadium. This is important for the club and the city.

“Redevelopment will create new jobs, boost visitor spends, enhance the river frontage and help to provide education and support opportunities for young people who need it most.”

Plans for the new stadium were first discussed in 2017 and while initial designs had been drawn up, the club was forced to change the proposal in April this year, with a 550-space underground car park dropped from the project.

The car park was set to be built underneath the stadium, protecting the riverside pitch from flooding and aiding the financial sustainability of the project. However, critics questioned how this could be delivered inside the city’s new clean air zone after the local council had declared a climate emergency.

The Rec has featured temporary stands for the last 15 years in order to bump its capacity up to 14,500, and each year the club must reapply for permission to retain them. The delay in the new stadium project could see these temporary stands now remain in place until 2026, according to the Somerset Live website.

Image: Bath Rugby