The Bath Preservation Trust, a heritage charity, has begun a legal fight to halt student flats from being built on the car park of the Bath Cricket Club.
The current 128-space car park and indoor training facility is planned to be replaced by student housing. Councillor Patrick Anketell-Jones comments, “Everybody thinks student accommodation is going to go on expanding but student numbers are levelling off. Now is the time to ensure they are going into purpose-built accommodation.”
The trust, on the other hand, believes that the development would do “nothing to alleviate pressure on the housing market.” Though the council officers had significant environmental concerns in the plan over flooding, the loss of trees, and the green-friendliness of the scheme in the city’s ‘green heart’, planning committee members went against their advice and approved the plans in March.
Caroline Kay, chief executive of Bath Preservation Trust, said, “This is the straw that broke the camel’s back.” As its first judicial review in over a decade, Bath Preservation Trust is currently fundraising for the review over Bath and North East Somerset Council’s “irrational” decision. The conservation group sees the battle as the only remaining choice to challenge the development.
The initial stage of the judicial review costs about £5,000, but the trust is confident in being able to raise enough money to fund it. They comment, “We’re working with lawyers to see if we have a case. We’ve asked our members and the public whether they will support us. We have the benefit of being a registered charity so donations can have gift aid added. We think it’s time someone stood up and said ‘the council needs to make well-justified decisions.”