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Tarquin McDonald Interview BBCR4 – Transcript

10th January 2018

Posted in: News

BBC Radio 4 Today Programme – Transcript

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CD: And staying in the west country it could be a pivotal week for Bath Rugby Club, they’ve appointed architects to develop plans for a major redevelopment of the Recreation Ground which will include a permanent 18,000 seater stadium as well as other leisure, office and cultural facilities right in the heart of the city. Well, let’s speak to the Chief Executive of Bath Rugby, Tarquin McDonald, who joins me on the line now. Tarquin, thanks for joining us.


CD: Tarquin, this is a very ambitious, complex project, what are you hoping it will do for both Bath Rugby and the City of Bath?


TM: Well firstly it’s about long-term sustainability for the club, keeping rugby in the heart of the city, it’s about rugby’s role in the community, it’s about the significant economic contribution to the city but it’s also about rugby as a catalyst for riverside regeneration in the city centre and a profoundly positive community and social legacy.


CD – Yes, the river has been notoriously poorly used hasn’t it over the years. It’s also a sensitive project isn’t it? In a conservation area, Bath as we know is a World Heritage Site. You’ve had plenty of opposition to this. What do you say to people who still now don’t want this new development?


TM: Well throughout 2017 we’ve been consulting extensively with neighbours and many people across bath and the resounding feedback has been a sense of optimism and a sense of excitement about the opportunity for creating something exceptional in the heart of Bath. There is a small minority of people who may be opposed to the principle of redevelopment and what we say to them is come and speak to us, come and talk to us and come and explain your concerns and listen to the opportunities that there are because this is not just about rugby. This is about creating something exceptional for everyone in the city.


CD: Lots of stakeholders, all with their opinions, do you really think you can make this work can you pull it off?


TM: Absolutely, the city’s World Heritage status that often gets referred to is if you like, a challenge and an opportunity. It sets the bar for the standard for this development and what we need to do is find a solution which is not just a stadium development but it’s a fantastic piece of architectural design and it’s something which benefits the community in the much broader sense and with the appointment of Grimshaw as the architects I think we’ve found the partner, the designer who can really lead the charge on this project.


CD: Just widening the discussion briefly Tarquin, the recent trend as we’ve seen has been to be sited out of town and some people say, identikit, faceless sort of stadia. How important is this project to confirming that we can actually keep sporting venues in the centre of our towns and cities in this country?


TM: I think its am important statement in that regard. If we were to look at this project in purely commercial terms, then the decision probably would be to move outside of town but sport is much more than commerce. The identity of our club is bound up in the city and the identity of the city is bound up in the club.  And by redeveloping in the centre of Bath, putting sport in the heart of Bath, we can continue to inspire the next generations to get involved in sport and to take pride in their city which I think is a fantastically positive thing to do.


CD: In a sentence, what is the timescale, when will this happen?


TM: We will bring forward design proposal for a planning application later this year and following on from that we would look forward to beginning construction.


CD: We look forward to it too, Tarquin McDonald, CEO Bath Rugby. Thank you very much for your time this morning.

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