Bath Rugby is set to receive a council notice with the threat of legal action after the club announced it would be breaking a planning rule.
A report to Bath & North East Somerset advisers said officers would make the impending failure of the dismantling of the east stand of the recreation grounds over the summer a top priority, although they have yet to decided to take enforcement action.
The authority has previously criticized Bath Rugby after bosses admitted on June 14 that they could not comply with the regulations due to “circumstances beyond our control”, blaming staff shortages at its subcontractor, Arena Group, of “imminent breach of contract”.
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The B & NES board has issued a statement making it clear that it still expects the stand to be removed and that the failure is a “clear violation of a planning condition.”
He said the board expected all parties, including Bath Rugby, to honor their commitments and were “very concerned with the club’s approach”, adding that they were considering their next step.
Now a report to the planning committee has revealed that it would involve serving a Notice of Planning Contravention (PCN), which the club must either give a full and truthful explanation of the violation within 21 days or face. possible criminal action.
He said: “This is an unusual situation as the condition violation is expected but has not yet occurred.
“It is important to stress that the planning of enforcement actions is discretionary.
“Considering the stand’s location in the heart of the World Heritage site and the unique nature of the situation, officers plan to give the breach the highest priority.
“The first step in the process would be to investigate the reasons given by Bath Rugby for not complying with the condition.”
The report said officers would immediately serve an NCP demanding that the club “provide detailed information on the circumstances of the violation and the assertion that the violation is beyond the club’s control.”
The Rec, home of Bath Rugby (Image: Harry Trump / Getty Images)
He said: “The service of an NCP does not affect any other authority exercisable with respect to any violation of planning control.
“A person signing an NCP is liable to prosecution if he does not comply with it within 21 days.
“It is also an offense to provide false or misleading information in response to an NCP.
“An NCP therefore obliges the recipient to answer honestly to formal questions about the violation of planning control and criminal penalties are foreseen in the event of non-compliance.
“It is expected that officers will review the response to the NCP before considering whether it is appropriate to take enforcement action.
“It is not possible at this stage to give an opinion on the merits of a particular execution option until the violation has occurred and has been fully investigated.”
The report states that the reason for the planning condition was “in the interest of the use, character and appearance of the site as open space for recreation in the conservation area and the World Heritage site. and in the context of listed buildings “.
No member commented and the Committee was requested to take note only of the report as it did not involve a decision.
In its June 14 statement, Bath Rugby said: “The condition states that within three weeks of the final match at Rec, the stands must be removed and the rebuilding must not begin more than four weeks before the first match at home of the new season.
This means that the stand must be dismantled before Sunday (July 4). Only then will a violation occur and a notice can be issued.
Bath Rugby set to receive planning notice Harry Trump / Getty Images
The club statement said: “Arena Group, the company that owns and rents the grandstand structure is at the club, has issued an official notice to Bath Rugby advising them of an impending breach of contract.
“The advisory confirms that it has been impossible to plan, schedule, recruit and train staff throughout the pandemic, causing an extreme shortage of specialized construction crews.
“As a result, the operational capacity of the Arena group is severely limited, which means that the grandstand cannot be safely dismantled and reassembled this summer. “
The club said they shared “a number of concerns” earlier this year with the board regarding the removal of the grandstand.
“One concern noted the availability of qualified contractors after a year of crisis for the construction industry,” he said.
“Unfortunately, these concerns have now become a very real reality in circumstances beyond the control of the club and the Arena group.
“In its communication with the club, Arena Group went on to state that the health and safety of its staff and customers is paramount.
“Additionally, due to the complex nature of the East Stand structure, Arena Group is unable to outsource this work, always requiring full quotas of experienced teams and licensed personnel to ensure an environment safe working. “
Bath Rugby’s director of operations Alex Cohen said at the time the club could not “hide our disappointment” at the impact of the breach of Arena’s contract.
He said: “The club have been working with Arena Group to exhaust all possible avenues to facilitate the dismantling of the east stand this summer.
“However, the company confirmed that due to the unique circumstances of the pandemic, it was unable to meet its commitment to dismantle and refit the East Stand at Rec during the coming summer months. .
“We value our long-standing relationship with Arena Group and understand their position, however, we cannot hide our disappointment at the impact this is now having on our club. We would like to extend our sincere apologies to all concerned. “
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This notice was published: 2021-07-01 15:51:02