Friends of Ashby Bath Grounds
Ashby's Bath Grounds are the 'Jewel in the Crown' of our historic Market Town.
In the heart of the town's heritage area, the Bath Grounds form part of the Ashby Green Corridor which connects the south of the town to Ashby Castle, creating its unique 'Countryside in the Town Feel'.
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𝗖𝗢𝗨𝗡𝗖𝗜𝗟 AGREES NEW 𝗕𝗔𝗧𝗛 𝗚𝗥𝗢𝗨𝗡𝗗𝗦 𝗣𝗨𝗥𝗖𝗛𝗔𝗦𝗘 DEAL
𝗖𝗢𝗨𝗡𝗖𝗜𝗟 AGREES NEW 𝗕𝗔𝗧𝗛 𝗚𝗥𝗢𝗨𝗡𝗗𝗦 𝗣𝗨𝗥𝗖𝗛𝗔𝗦𝗘 DEAL
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 effectively 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.
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.
REVISED PLANS FOR ROYAL HOTEL DEVELOPMENT PUBLISHED
The lengthy saga of the redevelopment of the Royal Hotel has taken another step forward with the publication of revised proposed plans for the enabling development associated with the hotel - a care home behind the cricket pavilion, and apartments and an office block on the Royal Hotel car park. The Masterplan can be seen on the right and this link will take you to our dedicated page where you can see our response to this application. The plans will impact on the view from the Bath Grounds as well as some of the access points to the Bath Grounds. Full details of the proposals can be viewed at the District Council planning portal here.
Note: Planning permission has already been given for the redevelopment of the Royal Hotel. The link between the two is that the developers says they need the enabling development to pay for the redevelopment of the Hotel.
There is still an opportunity for interested parties and members of the public to submit comments on the enabling development plans during February 2022. (Because of the significance of this development to the town, it is possible that this date may be extended.)
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Friends of Ashby Bath Grounds
What We Stand For
Our aim is to work to protect and improve the Bath Grounds, Ashby de la Zouch, as a free, public access park and recreational facility for the benefit of the whole community. In particular we:
- Support enhancement of the Bath Grounds for the benefit of public enjoyment and sporting use.
- Support the prevention of building on any part of the Bath Grounds.
- Support community ownership of the Bath Grounds.
- Support use of the Bath Grounds by community sports organisations provided this does not unduly interfere with enjoyment by other members of the public.
Bath Grounds Awarded Prestigious Green Flag
A milestone was reached in the history of the Bath Grounds with the announcement in 2021that they landed a Green Flag Award. The Green Flag Award® scheme recognises well managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard for the management of recreational outdoor spaces across the UK and around the world. The announcement by Ashby Town Council was welcomed by the Friends who have been heavily involved in planning, managing, securing funding, and carrying out many of the improvements to the Bath Grounds over the last six years. This is just reward for the support given by the Ashby community and the FOABG membership.
The Bath Grounds have been transformed over recent years following the formation of the FOABG whose initial focus was to prevent proposed development on the grounds. We recognised that this much loved green heart of Ashby was in need of some additional TLC and embarked on the ambitious ‘Heritage Path Project’ raising some £65k in funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and North West Leicestershire District Council. This led to the installation of the new all-weather Heritage Path around the Grounds, the various Historical Interpretation Boards and Mosaics, the archaeological survey and many other initiatives designed to lift the profile of the BG and highlight its historical importance.
These achievements, together with successful ‘Save our Bath Grounds’ campaigns in 2014 and 2018 against development on part of the BG, raising a petition of 8,000 signatures, encouraged the Friends to continue to work closely with the Town Council in generating and developing further improvement projects around the Grounds. These have included:
- The installation of new benches around the Grounds with sponsorship kindly provided by caring Ashby residents with a love of the BG.
- Additional litter bins around the Grounds.
- Maintenance of the South Street flowerbed and painting of benches.
- Annual litter picks.
- The Castle View Wildlife Walk.
- The ‘laying’ of around seventy metres of hawthorn hedge along the northern edge of the Grounds.
Over the years, the FOABG have benefitted from the support of the Ashby community and enjoy a wide following on social media from people who care deeply about protecting the Bath Grounds for the benefit of residents and visitors alike. The Friends' close relationship with the Town Council and other agencies has proved to be mutually beneficial and has led to many initiatives to reduce ASB and the incidence of dog mess, help prevent vehicles accessing the Grounds and generally helping to improve the overall environment and maintenance of the BG.
The prestigious Green Flag Award does however bring with it a range of specific responsibilities to maintain the standards upon which the Award is based. A key element of the scheme is to be able to demonstrate that suitable Action and Management Plans are in place relating to the Town Council’s aims for the Bath Grounds.
The Town Council are to be congratulated on developing both these plans which will help guide and improve the maintenance and future enjoyment of the Bath Grounds.
SEPTEMBER 2019: NEW PLANNING APPLICATION SUBMITTED FOR DEVELOPMENTS IN THE GROUNDS OF THE ROYAL HOTEL
In September 2019 Oakland Hotels Ltd and Peveril Homes Ltd submitted a planning application (19-01729-FULM) to the NWLDC planning department for the:
‘Erection of a 30 apartment terrace, B1(c) office building, cafe kiosk and 45 senior living apartment block with associated car parking access, landscaping and associated access amendments’.
Following many objections, including concern from English Heritage over the impact of the proposed developments on the setting of the Royal Hotel, the application was put on hold for two years. Revised plans were submitted in 2022 which included "Enabling Development" provisions. (see article on left).
The Bath Grounds forms part of Ashby's Green Corridor in the heart of the town