Charity tribunal hearing over Bath Rugby Club land dispute begins

The tribunal is considering appeals from local residents against a Charity Commission approval of a scheme to deal with a 'breach of trust' issue

Bath Recreation Ground
Bath Recreation Ground

The charity tribunal hearing into appeals against the Charity Commission’s decisions relating to charitable land used as the home of Bath Rugby Club began today.

The hearing, which is scheduled to take place over three days at Bath Magistrates Court this week, will consider appeals against the Charity Commission’s approval of a scheme to deal with a "breach of trust" relating to a long-running dispute over the use of charity land in Bath city centre.

The regulator announced in June that Bath and North East Somerset Council should be replaced as the sole trustee of the Bath Recreation Ground Trust by an independent board.

In 2007, the commission released a report following a four-and-a-half-year inquiry into the long-running dispute over the land's use. It criticised the council for breaches of trust over the 1974 construction of a leisure centre and car park partially on the trust's land, and the decision in 1995 to grant a new 75-year lease to Bath Rugby Club, which has used part of the land for its stadium since 1894.

To resolve the breach, the trust, which exists to provide sporting and recreational opportunities, proposed a trade-off in which the club would continue to use the trust land it uses at present and be allowed to use another piece of trust land so that it could redevelop the ground.

In return, the club would lease to the trust its former training ground at Lambridge, on the outskirts of the city, which would be used for "a wide range of recreational activities".

The first meeting of the new board took place on 18 July, according to the trust’s website. It is chaired by the council’s deputy leader, David Dixon.

Three appeals to the charity tribunal from local residents against the commission’s scheme were combined into one case at a directions hearing last year.

The hearing is scheduled to take place today, tomorrow and conclude on Thursday.

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