Bid for town green status for The Rec in Bath 'is a stalling tactic'

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Written by:   | Posted 17-January-2013 9:35

A resident opposed to moves to give Bath Rugby a greater share of the Recreation Ground has applied for the site to be made an official town green.

But the application by retired NHS IT manager Jack Sparrow has been dismissed as a “stalling tactic” by the politician at the heart of the process of sorting out The Rec’s future.

Mr Sparrow, from Bathwick, has lodged an application under the 2006 Commons Act to have the whole of The Rec, including the city’s leisure centre, designated as a town green. Such a status would make it more difficult for new development to take place there, and similar applications were used in an effort to stop the Bus Rapid Transit scheme in Newbridge.

Anyone wanting to apply for such a designation has to prove that there has been use of the land for recreation over a long period of time. Mr Sparrow’s submission says the land had been used – and continues to be used – “as of right by the inhabitants of the city of Bath for at least 20 years for lawful sports and pastimes”.

He also points to the 1956 covenant governing The Rec, drawn up when the land was given to the old city council. The Rec’s delicate charitable status has held up Bath Rugby’s plans to develop a larger arena for more than a decade.

The Charity Commission last month launched a consultation into plans to allow the club to have a bigger area on The Rec, in return for its former training ground at Lambridge passing into public ownership.

Around 2,000 people took part in that exercise, and the commission is deciding whether to allow the shake-up to progress. Mr Sparrow, who has lived in Bath since 1983, said the solution currently being looked at was “a disaster”.

“I would like to see The Rec returned to open space. I don’t mind amateur rugby being played there, but Bath Rugby are abusing the situation. They have outgrown The Rec.”

He said the rugby club’s current main lease allowed for a “ridiculously low” rent, and that a proper lease payment should be being paid with regard to the leisure centre.

The chairman of the Bath Recreation Ground Trust, councillor David Dixon, who has been working with the commission, B&NES Council, residents and the club, said: “This is merely a stalling tactic, an application which in my view fails on many accounts as a town village green, not least there is a leisure centre in existence and people, are not free to access the land, as all sports and activities are to be booked and paid for through the trust.”


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