Plans for Bath Rugby’s new stadium have been submitted to the council for planning permission.

The application sets out plans for a permanent 18,000-seat stadium at the Recreation Ground in Bath with a hybrid pitch planned to increase community and amateur use. The plans also include the regenerated riverside with a new cafe and restaurant, while retaining mature trees.

Bath Rugby CEO Tarquin McDonald said: “If everything went well we would love it to be building through the 25/26 seasons […] and welcoming 18,000 people in from the start of 26/27 season.”

But this will depend on how long the plans take to go through Bath and North East Somerset Council’s planning process. Mr McDonald said: “The step that we’ve taken today is a submission of our planning application. So the next step from that is planning committee, and there’s due process to follow.”

The club currently plays in temporary facilities on the recreation ground — a way of operating which costs the club about a million pounds a year. Mr McDonald said that establishing a permanent stadium on the site would secure the club’s long term future.

He warned: “If we were not able to redevelop it, it calls into question our ability to stay here long term. […] That would be tragic for the city and the club.”

The stadium will have a “contemporary and sensitive design.” Mr McDonald said: “This is the culmination of many years of collaboration, listening and refining, which we now believe delivers the world-class facility that Bath Rugby and the wider city deserves.”

An alternate design which would have seen the the stadium and neighbouring leisure centre developed in a classical style — with the rugby pitch in the centre of colosseum — was independently proposed by a group of architects in the summer.

The colosseum plans captured the popular imagination, but Mr McDonald said they were “unaffordable” and a “non-starter.” He said: “They involved land that’s not available and that was a 16,000 capacity stadium. That’s not sustainable.”

He added: “This is not just about copying Bath; this is not just about pastiche.”

Mr McDonald said that the redevelopment would have a “huge impact” on the local economy, with millions of pounds being spent in Bath when people came to the rugby. He said: “In the same way that development is fundamental to the long term sustainability of the club, its really important to the city and the city economy.”

Mr McDonald said: “We are excited to share our vision with all and would ask people to review the proposals via the Bath and North East Somerset Council planning portal and ultimately support them.”

The plans are expected to be live at 9am on Friday September 29 on Bath and North East Somerset Council’s planning portal.

You will be able to view and comment on the application by searching for application reference 23/03558/EFUL for the full planning application, and 23/03559/LBA for the listed building consent application.

LDRS, John Wimperis