The Friends warmly welcomed the decision made by Ashby Town Council on Monday 24th January 2022 to press ahead with purchasing the freehold of the Bath Grounds, though final completion is still waiting to happen.
Legal arrangements were agreed which would separate the Bath Grounds purchase from the planning application for development around the Royal Hotel (see below). The money paid (£620k) will have to be used by the Royal owners to undertake major repairs to the fabric of the building, particularly the roof, whether or not their planning application for apartments and an old people's home is approved.
You can read more about the current ownership of the Bath Grounds, the current lease and the previous "deal" to purchase them on our Ownership page.
Community ownership of the Bath Grounds was one of the Friends’ four prime objectives when we were established back in 2014. It’s fantastic to see that we are reaching the end of the long journey towards achieving this, without compromising any of our other objectives, including the prevention of building on any part of the Bath Grounds.
Back in 2014, the Town Council had agreed in principle to back the owners of the Royal Hotel building five luxury houses on the Bath Grounds in exchange for handing over what would have been left of the Grounds. We were not willing to accept that deal and our campaign to stop it, with a 3000-signature petition and over 100 letters of objection, resulted in withdrawal of the associated planning application.
In 2018, Oakland Hotels resurrected their plan to build houses on the Bath Grounds in exchange for donating the rest to the Council. This time we raised a 7000 strong petition and Oakland eventually decided against submitting their planning application.
Whilst we feel that the asking price of £620,000 is high, we much prefer that the Bath Grounds are secured for the public through a straight purchase rather than through any deal involving loss of a large swathe of the Grounds to building.
However, we will not be resting on our laurels. At the Town Council meeting, councillors from across the political spectrum requested that the Town Clerk explores means of ensuring that the Bath Grounds now remain in community ownership in perpetuity, so a successor council could not decide to sell them off. We support this move and are considering changing our community ownership aim to reflect this.
The Friends will continue our work representing our members and users of the Bath Grounds on the Town Council's Bath Grounds Advisory Group, advocating improved standards of maintenance and working with the Town Council and users to achieve further investment in the public facilities on the Grounds, particularly accessibility.