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A tale of two projects

It was a real pleasure to be among the guests for the official opening of the University of Bath’s brilliant Institute of Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems. The astonishing £80m complex was acclaimed by Chief Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen, as one of the top 3 research facilities of its type in the world, so under the leadership of Professor Chris Brace, it means that when it comes to cutting edge motor engine and fuel research we are firmly in the driving seat.


The building took a mere six years to complete after the University recognised it needed more space than could be found within Bath itself. They identified a site on the Science Park at Emerson’s Green and now have a purpose built base to work from.


That time frame is a mere blink of the eye compared to Bath Rugby’s tortuous progress towards the creation of a new stadium on the Recreation Ground. However, it is to be hoped that years of legal wrangling are finally behind them and there can now be a focus on the planning application which has recently been submitted.


It’s the result of exhaustive multiple consultations during which the club has attempted to involve as many people as possible and produce a scheme which will prove acceptable. Of course, there will always be some who remain resolutely opposed to any plans and others, including some of our members, who will quibble at the design. However, there is a broad consensus in favour of this application and I would urge the planners to follow the French philosopher Voltaire, who warned against allowing perfection to be the enemy of the good, or as one of our plain speaking members put it: “Let’s just get on with it !”


There must be a real risk that if this planning application fails the club could follow the example of the University and opt to move to where the development challenges are far fewer. After all it might be cheaper and would certainly be much faster, as IAAPS has proven.


But there would be consequences for the City. At a time when High Streets around the country are working to revitalise themselves against the competition from out of town shopping centres, the economic benefit of match days would be lost and there would be no more aerial views of the historic centre from TV coverage to attract tourists.


There are lots of projects going ahead which will strengthen the appeal of the City centre, from the ambitious Fashion Museum, the completion of the Abbey’s Footprint scheme, not to mention the Quays developments. The rugby stadium is a crucial part of the jig saw which will ensure the economic success of the City centre for years to come.



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