English Premiership club Bath Rugby has unveiled revised plans for a major redevelopment of the Recreation Ground.
On Saturday, fans attending Bath’s home match against Saracens were given the chance to view the project and visuals for the redevelopment. Two further consultations, open to the wider public, will be held tomorrow (Wednesday) and on May 18.
Bath said the latest designs reflect the changing needs of the club, the city and the community. The project proposes a year-round venue that will sit alongside a redeveloped, more open and well maintained riverside.
The Recreation Ground is currently owned and operated by Bath Recreation Ltd. In October, Bath Rugby was cleared to proceed with the redevelopment of the stadium after the Supreme Court refused an application seeking to appeal the ruling of the Court of Appeal from February 2022.
The ruling brought an end to the long-running legal case relating to the 1922 Covenants, agreed in April 1922, which effectively banned the construction of any building on the planned development site that would cause a “nuisance, annoyance or disturbance”, or otherwise impact the local community.
The Stadium for Bath project proposes a new 18,000-capacity stadium to be built on the site of the Recreation Ground. The club hopes to submit a planning application to Bath and North East Somerset Council in the summer of 2023 ahead of construction work potentially starting in the second quarter of 2024.
Kay Elliott has been appointed as the architect for the project. Bath said that it would consider selling naming rights for the new stadium further down the line.
The new plans will see the West Stand of the stadium serving as a civic venue on non-match days, with Bath to operate a club shop and café, as well as stadium tours. The height of the West Stand has been reduced by six metres since previous proposals, which has been achieved partly through the removal of the under-pitch car park.
The plans for a new stadium were first discussed in 2017 but the project was put on hold in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The planning application that will be submitted will include a permanent East Stand, better concourses, more and improved food and beverage facilities, conferencing and banqueting facilities, and office and classrooms for the Bath Rugby Foundation.
The club hopes the new stadium will provide an enhanced fan experience, with the seating bowl and run-off areas designed to keep supporters close to the action. Other features include more legroom and wider seats, uninterrupted sight lines, two big screens, high-speed Wi-Fi, over 100 accessible seats, and a tunnel club.
Additional space along the riverside will be created by moving the stadium further into the current site and removing the existing clubhouse. The club plans on remaining at the Recreation Ground throughout the construction phase, with the work to be carried out stand by stand.