Bath Rec trustees to appeal against charity tribunal ruling on its land-swap scheme

The trustees of the land, used as the home of Bath Rugby Club, agreed to the Charity Commission scheme, but the charity tribunal ruled that it should be amended substantially

The Bath Recreation Ground
The Bath Recreation Ground

The trustees of land held by a charity and used as the home of Bath Rugby Club will appeal to the Upper Tribunal against a charity tribunal decision that they say was "financially unhelpful".

The Bath Recreation Ground, in the middle of Bath, has been at the centre of a long-running dispute over the use of its land, some of which is charitable.

Last year, the Charity Commission drew up a scheme, which was agreed to by the Bath Recreation Ground Trust, for a land-swap deal allowing the rugby club to use extra land at the site in order to redevelop the ground. In return, the club would lease the charity its former training ground on the city’s outskirts for public use.

In March, the charity tribunal ruled that the scheme would need to be substantially amended, saying it was "not the only, or the best, practical solution that the trustees should consider in deciding how to further the objects of the charity".

The tribunal also ordered the charity to make changes to its governance and board in order to be more independent from the local council, which was previously the sole trustee.

In April, the trustees of the charity said they were seeking permission to appeal the decision in the Upper Tribunal because the ruling was "financially unhelpful to the trust" and contained errors in law.

The charity said it had already implemented aspects of the decision concerning the make-up of its board. The tribunal gave permission for them to appeal in May.

A spokesman for the Bath Recreation Ground Trust said: "At their meeting on 13 August, the trustees received advice on the likely costs, timetable and prospects for success in their appeal to the Upper Tribunal. In the light of this, they decided to proceed with the appeal."

The permission to appeal decision, published in May, says the appeal is limited in scope. It says that the charity seeks solely to have the amount of land it is allowed to lease to the rugby club enlarged as per the original scheme, or have either the commission or the tribunal determine this independently of the scheme.

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