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Post by stillmanjunior on Wed Mar 11, 2020 4:41 pm

What happens now?
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Post by SteveBradley on Wed Mar 11, 2020 4:49 pm

I haven't read the grounds for rejection yet, and only know the basics of the plans as submitted. But presumably the developer had some fat built into the scheme in expectation that this could happen.

In which case they would come back with a revised set of plans that are more in-keeping with what the council has stated it wants to see there (or more accurately - taking account of what it says it DOESN'T want to see there). That would then go before the committee again, and presumably have a much better chance of success.

This assumes that there is scope to re-jig the plans as required. I'd be stunned if there wasn't to be honest. It would be a very silly developer who submitted their bottom-line needs in their first planning application for a project of this scale.

As for the financials of the scheme - hopefully they will still stack-up after rejigging it all. But the issues raised around car parking could impact the number of units, which in turn would presumably hit the financials.

Hopefully the club and developers will release a joint statement shortly outlining their disappointment at the rejection, and their determination to work through it all and come back with an improved scheme that's more likely to get passed. So I hope and expect that not all is lost here.

What may cause complications is the timing of all of this. Even if new plans were submitted tomorrow, they'd need a minimum of 3mths before going to committee again - and realistically probably closer to 6mths. So we'll have to take a view as a club on whether or not to move to a temporary ground for next season speculatively, or delay starting work by another season if we do get planning in the Autumn. All of which would have implications on the club's ongoing running costs, debt repayment etc.

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Post by Bridgeyate on Wed Mar 11, 2020 8:25 pm

Awful news although not a surprise. Apparently it was a unanimous decision from the committee of councillors. I gather that Amanda Rigby was one of them and hopefully she was unable to vote due to her past history with the club and conflict of interest. I would imagine that we would be prepared for this decision and maybe there is a plan B, but will it be viable if plans have to be changed and will it work with the finances? What I find very hard to understand is that Bath City have been liaising with the council for the past two years and would have been guided as to the best way forward.
What an absolute joke it all is. So Bath council are you going to regenerate Twerton - I very much doubt it !

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Post by tovid on Wed Mar 11, 2020 8:55 pm

I think most of us realised there are too many student units in the proposal and this appears to be the nub of the issue. I think everything related to the football club is accepted - even the artificial pitch.

As Steve says hopefully the developers have a fall back plan. But it will take time. We were never going to be moving out next season as there wasn't time to mobilise the builder so this delay may not be a disaster.
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Post by Peter Newman on Thu Mar 12, 2020 12:09 am

I am finding it difficult to evaluate the longer term impact for Bath City of this decision.
Perhaps those thoughts are for a few days time but in the meantime I think we have to give our thanks to all those who have given time and effort to try and achieve a successful future for Bath City.
I attended the Planning Meeting today and it was great to see so many people there backing the Club and its management. The outcome, however, is a kick in the teeth for so many decent people. We are now facing the potential for football and life to be put on hold within the next few days so our Club will be facing a very difficult time. It is important, therefore, that we all do as much as possible to provide immediate and future support.

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Post by Freeview Joe on Thu Mar 12, 2020 8:42 am

There is always the option to either submit a revised scheme, with some sort of B&NES Planning Dept. pre-application feasibility advice on what would actually be acceptable to them (so it would pass) or to appeal yesterday's refusal via The Planning Inspectorate.
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Post by comrade powell on Thu Mar 12, 2020 9:38 am

Peter Newman wrote:I am finding it difficult to evaluate the longer term  impact for Bath City of this decision.
Perhaps those thoughts are for a few days time  but in the meantime I think we have to give our thanks to all those who have given time and effort  to try and achieve a  successful future for Bath City.  
I attended the Planning Meeting today and it was great to see so many people there backing the Club and its management.  The outcome, however, is a kick in the teeth for so many decent people.   We are now facing the  potential for football and life to be put on hold within the next few days so our Club will be facing a very difficult time. It is important, therefore, that we all do as much as possible to provide  immediate and future support.

Well said, Peter. The large turnout of supporters at yesterday’s meeting was really excellent and thanks must also be given to all those who supported the application in other ways, especially those who took the time and effort to write to their local councillors.

The Board always planned to meet soon after the meeting, whatever the outcome, and we’ll be doing that shortly to discuss and decide on the various options.
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Post by SteveBradley on Thu Mar 12, 2020 3:12 pm

Freeview Joe wrote:There is always the option to either submit a revised scheme, with some sort of B&NES Planning Dept. pre-application feasibility advice on what would actually be acceptable to them (so it would pass) or to appeal yesterday's refusal via The Planning Inspectorate.

An appeal would be costly, and I'm not convinced it would succeed. The committee was unanimous against it, as was the officers' recommendation. Unless there were procedural errors or some council planning policies that have not been followed regarding the rejection, then I'm not sure what feasible grounds there would be for appeal ? There might be a slim case to make that the council shouldn't be demanding so much car parking whilst it is trying to reduce car use within that city, but that would depend what was in the Local Development Plan regarding that.

I'm pretty sure the club and developer did speak to officers in advance of submitting their plans. It's standard practise for any scheme of this size. That doesn't guarantee success either though - even if you're paying for their advice.

I'm pretty confident that a re-jigged version of the plan will be developed and re-submitted. The big unknown is would that still deliver the same financial benefit to the club from the process ? Possibly not. But everyone is probably too emotionally invested in all of this now to not want to progress with a re-jigged version.

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Post by Bluebird on Thu Mar 12, 2020 3:40 pm

This must feel like a real kick in the teeth, after all the hard work involved with the planning process. It does make you wonder what the clowns on the Council are thinking sometimes. Just out of interest, if and when you do have to move out temporarily, what are the ground-share options?

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Post by Peter Newman on Thu Mar 12, 2020 5:34 pm

There was frequent mention of the Twerton Conservation Area but does anyone know the actual area it covers. Perhaps the tourist bus operators are unaware of its existence since I have never seen any of their buses down the High Street.
I suppose we have to accept that planners and planning committees work in very odd ways that, on frequent occassions, come to decisions that simply make little sense. I always wonder why the Great Wall of Pitmans is still standing unless it is being used to support a display of some modern art work made of scaffolding poles.

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Post by Bridgeyate on Thu Mar 12, 2020 6:14 pm

The reasons for the refusal are listed on the BANES site /notification of decision.Will be interesting to see the next move from the club and Greenacre.Thank you to all involved in this , for all the hard work and sorry that the outcome was not what we wanted and hope that there is a Plan B and a way forward.

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Post by LB on Thu Mar 12, 2020 6:17 pm

Like Peter I was intrigued by the idea that there was a Twerton Conservation Area, and I am sure one of the committee members asked in all seriousness how it fitted in with Bath being a World Heritage Site!

Although generally the redevelopment of the ground itself seemed to find favour, there were some interesting comments about the artificial pitch, one from one of the public speakers and another from the committee member who moved the motion to reject the application.

I suppose the only consolation to come out of yesterday was that the committee also refused the application for the old Hartwells site - if that had gone through (which had been recommended by the planning officer) after ours had been rejected I think that would really have been too much to bear.

Hopefully we can go forward in this together and get the right outcome in the not too distant future. At least if we do get promoted we can be certain of playing the games at Twerton next season.

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Post by tovid on Thu Mar 12, 2020 11:06 pm

Yes agree wholeheartedly with Peter. A great deal of effort has gone into this from both the club board and the society.
Planning is a very precarious and indeed unsatisfactory process and unfortunately all that effort has to be expended with no guarantee of success. And in Bath they trundle out the world heritage site excuse at every opportunity. Have any of them been down Twerton High Street?
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Post by Freeview Joe on Fri Mar 13, 2020 9:00 am

I'm pretty sure the club and developer did speak to officers in advance of submitting their plans. It's standard practise for any scheme of this size.  That doesn't guarantee success either though - even if you're paying for their advice.

I'm pretty confident that a re-jigged version of the plan will be developed and re-submitted. The big unknown is would that still deliver the same financial benefit to the club from the process ? Possibly not. But everyone is probably too emotionally invested in all of this now to not want to progress with a re-jigged version.  

I was if the same way of thinking Steve, that pre-application advice must have been gleaned particularly on a scheme so large.

If the reasons for refusal were solely size and number of units plus parking, this doesn't seem to be a major planning policy issue to overcome. A reduction in the number of units would mean less parking spaces would be required. (Although as pointed out, less units may have it's own economic / financial issues.)

At the effect the development would have on the Twerton Conservation area, I'm presuming there must be some historic significance to the council houses on Freeview Road ... Or Jane Austin used to drink in the Old Crown maybe?
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Post by Manchester Romans on Fri Mar 13, 2020 9:36 am

I don’t have the book to hand but in Jane Austen’s Collected Letters there is one where she mentions going on a walk to Twerton - it may even have been on a Saturday afternoon!

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Post by Peter Newman on Fri Mar 13, 2020 9:59 am

Interesting to see that the BANES Council has been criticised for failing to consult Highways England regarding the potential traffic implications from the proposed Bath Rugby development at the Rec.
Seems to indicate the Council's planning department is not particularly fit for purpose.

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Post by SteveS on Fri Mar 13, 2020 12:12 pm

From the clubs point of view the timing of this application was not good but nothing they could really do about that. Over the past couple of years there has been a lot of concern within the city about the amount of student accommodation being built in general. If this application had been submitted 2 or 3 years ago the chances of success would have been a lot higher but councillors react to public opinion as basically they want to be popular with the electorate.
What happens now? This is a major setback and I don't think all realise the implications.
We all know who the most vocal local, if you call a Southdown resident local, objector is and he keeps referring to the club as being greedy. Does he not understand that the vast majority of the proposed development site is owned by Greenacre so the question is what will Greenacre do? They might appeal or submit revised plans but revised plans would mean reduced benefits for the football club.
Greenacre may also just decide to sit on the site i.e. do nothing and let the area deteriorate and become even more of an eyesore. Have the objectors and local councillors thought this may happen? I am not sure they have thought this through. If the area deteriorates more there will be more complaints and then more pressure on councillors to accept any application Greenacre may make as it will come to the stage where people say anything is better than what is there now. This means they may end up getting more or less what they want. This would take time and the football club does not have any of this.
From the clubs point of view I would call the Councils bluff on this. An option could be to say ok you have turned this down and there has been lots of talk by objectors of the need for housing.
Bath Rugby are shortly to put in an application regarding the Rec and they have referred to it as a stadium for Bath although at the moment it is just a stadium for Bath Rugby. If the council see Twerton park as a potential housing site then one way could be that the Bath Rugby application is really a stadium for Bath and not just the rugby club. They should make it clear to the rugby club that if they want the Rec application to proceed then it has to include the football club with secure tenure. This works well at Ashton Gate and I don't see why it could not work in Bath and it would give the football club real opportunity to move forward. Now days there is little point in developing a new stadium in the centre of Bath to be used infrequently.
We could then leave the vocal minority to argue over the details of what they want in Twerton but if they are not careful they could end up with a lot more dereliction in what they are describing as a 'conservation area'. Think on councillors, planners and objectors.

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Post by City 'til we're relegated on Fri Mar 13, 2020 12:53 pm

SteveS makes a good point, and Steve Bradley seemed to make some common sense points. If the students are coming to Bath to study at one of the two Universities, then they have to be accommodated somewhere. I was always critical of the fact that they used to occupy a lot of, what once were, family homes. Better that they have purpose built accommodation. Is there now an oversupply of student accommodation, or does the city want less students to study there?

I must admit that, though I love the old ground (TP) and hoped this planning application could have been successful, I was shocked at the intensity of the development when I saw the plans. If I cared not for football, and worked on the City’s future development, I should wish to acquire the whole site. If the council wish this to happen then they should assist our club in finding an alternative stadium site within the city bounds.

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Post by pete mac on Fri Mar 13, 2020 1:20 pm

Well said Steve. Time for the Club to push for a place at the Rec I think.

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Post by Peter Newman on Fri Mar 13, 2020 2:33 pm

Many supporters have always contsidered the Rec as an ideal option. The problem is that without its development there is no way  this could even be a consideration. Bath Rugby  would  resist  any form of sharing arrangement as things stand at present.
As, has been mentioned, there could be, perhaps, some BANES pressure to make a shared Rec facility a condition of  any planning consent. However the anti-Rec  development protest group are much stronger than the anti-Twerton one so the potential for any new stadium there  still seems years away. Time, unfortunately, is something we do not have.
Of course anything we post on here is based on life, as we know it, continuing in the same vein. The current situation has the potential to radically change the future and the way that society will adapt.

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Post by daven on Fri Mar 13, 2020 2:42 pm

I remember many years ago (was it when Bob Boyd was in charge, I may have got that wrong), we had a chance to move to a site next to the Park & Ride at Odd Down. Think the board turned it down. Would that piece of land still be there?

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Post by Twerton Park Magic on Sat Mar 14, 2020 4:38 pm

This is a sorry tale. I wasn't at the planning meeting, but I have heard some of the webcast, and it contains so much nonsense, glibness, snobbery, disinformation. Very disappointing.
Interested in the point about a site near the Park and Ride. Of course there is one good site up there and it's called Odd Down FC. Would they consider a merger and a redevelopment up there? The other possibility is to look for a site south of Bath where so many of our supporters now live because of the price of property in Bath and high rents.
But what complicates the issue are those loans which as I understand it are due to be repaid next year.
What a mess.

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Post by Luton Roman on Mon Mar 16, 2020 2:47 pm

With nothing off the table now, investors are always circling clubs and I imagine City is no different so is it time to rethink? The community model can't fix the ground on its own. Seemingly the community doesn't want us. An investor could fix the ground without the associated development, but clearly they would want something else in return, if not a tangible financial return. Some % ownership probably. Is it that unpalatable? What are the options?

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Post by SteveBradley on Mon Mar 16, 2020 3:14 pm

SteveS wrote:From the clubs point of view the timing of this application was not good but nothing they could really do about that. Over the past couple of years there has been a lot of concern within the city about the amount of student accommodation being built in general. If this application had been submitted 2 or 3 years ago the chances of success would have been a lot higher but councillors react to public opinion as basically they want to be popular with the electorate.
What happens now? This is a major setback and I don't think all realise the implications.
We all know who the most vocal local, if you call a Southdown resident local, objector is and he keeps referring to the club as being greedy. Does he not understand that the vast majority of the proposed development site is owned by Greenacre so the question is what will Greenacre do? They might appeal or submit revised plans but revised plans would mean reduced benefits for the football club.
Greenacre may also just decide to sit on the site i.e. do nothing and let the area deteriorate and become even more of an eyesore. Have the objectors and local councillors thought this may happen? I am not sure they have thought this through. If the area deteriorates more there will be more complaints and then more pressure on councillors to accept any application Greenacre may make as it will come to the stage where people say anything is better than what is there now. This means they may end up getting more or less what they want. This would take time and the football club does not have any of this.
From the clubs point of view I would call the Councils bluff on this. An option could be to say ok you have turned this down and there has been lots of talk by objectors of the need for housing.
Bath Rugby are shortly to put in an application regarding the Rec and they have referred to it as a stadium for Bath although at the moment it is just a stadium for Bath Rugby. If the council see Twerton park as a potential housing site then one way could be that the Bath Rugby application is really a stadium for Bath and not just the rugby club. They should make it clear to the rugby club that if they want the Rec application to proceed then it has to include the football club with secure tenure. This works well at Ashton Gate and I don't see why it could not work in Bath and it would give the football club real opportunity to move forward. Now days there is little point in developing a new stadium in the centre of Bath to be used infrequently.
We could then leave the vocal minority to argue over the details of what they want in Twerton but if they are not careful they could end up with a lot more dereliction in what they are describing as a 'conservation area'. Think on councillors, planners and objectors.

I think the Rec is just far too big for us Steve, and would make the matchday experience pretty miserable. Think of Darlington when they were playing in League 2 at the Reynolds Arena - with a couple of thousand fans in a 25,000 seater stadium. Linfield in Belfast play in Windsor Park, and with gates of about 2,000 there it's a soulless experience. So I fear the Rec would be just too big for us, even if we saw our crowds double because of it (which I doubt they would anyway).

However - I would like to see the club use the upcoming planning battle over the New Rec to secure agreement on the principle that Bath City could use the facility in the future though e.g. big FA Cup games, unforeseen circumstances etc. If this isn't nailed down in a moment of weakness/need for Bath Rugby, then I think we'll struggle to get it agreed in future.

I know the result from the planning committee last week feels like a real kick in the teeth to everyone, but it really isn't (or at least shouldn't be) the end of the world. Planning processes aren't easy - especially so for schemes of any size, and doubly so in Bath. Let's see what the club and Greenacre come back with, as I suspect there'll be a revised plan myself.

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Post by tovid on Mon Mar 16, 2020 7:15 pm

Yes agree Steve
All is not lost. As I read it the planning officer thinks the student block is too monlithic. He isn't rejecting student accommodation per se.
I would imagine the architects will have an idea how to tweak it.
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