Bath & West unveils regeneration plans

The Royal Bath & West Society has announced ambitious plans to transform its Somerset showground into a major South West attraction.

The Society is planning to invest £120m in the Bath & West Showground to turn it into a tourist destination, which will boost the local economy and create 1,500 new jobs.

Plans include improved showground access, hotels, a new exhibition and conference centre, a specialist retail centre, outdoor pursuits and adventure attractions, log cabin holiday homes, community orchards, cycle trails and an Eco Zone showcasing the best in sustainable living.

Investment in renewable technologies, such as solar panels and anaerobic digestion, will turn the site into the first energy self-sufficient showground in the UK. Any extra energy will be sold back to the National Grid, generating a new source of income for the showground.

Dr Jane Guise, chief executive of the Royal Bath & West of England Society, said: "We want to transform the showground and create a vibrant, high-quality events venue of a national standard. We believe our plans will achieve this and ensure long-term financial stability, raising the investment needed to fund the redevelopment and create a solid and growing revenue stream to safeguard the future."

Following detailed consultation, the Society is aiming to submit a planning application for the project later this year. The plans will take 12 to 15 years to complete, but it is hoped that significant progress will be made with the major tourist and business elements before the end of 2012.

Regeneration expert London & Wharfedale will lead the development and architectural practice Stephen George & Partners will work on building design and planning issues.

Chairman and managing director of London & Wharfedale, Richard Froggatt FRICS said: "I am tremendously excited by the redevelopment and I am passionately committed to working with the Society to achieve a common goal over many years.

"By working together, we want to make the showground a compelling, year-round visitor destination with a national profile. It would no longer be vulnerable to bad weather or diseases in farming, but would support and complement agricultural and rural industries, showcasing the best of the region and stimulating the regional economy."

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