The Grandstand, Bath And West Showground, Shepton Mallet, Somerset BA4 6QN


29th January 2009

THE Royal Bath & West of England Society today unveiled visionary plans that would transform the Somerset showground into a major South West visitor destination and tourist attraction. It would become the first energy self-sufficient showground in the UK.

The Society estimates that more than 1,500 new jobs could ultimately be created on the site, providing a massive, ongoing boost to the local and regional economy. The total investment value of the redevelopment would be £120M.

Energy generation is key. The showground aims to become the first in the UK to be completely energy self-sufficient using renewable technologies, such as solar thermal, photovoltaic cells, or anaerobic digestion of biomass waste from local dairy industries. Excess electricity could be sold back to the National Grid, generating a profitable new 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.

‘The Society has enjoyed tremendous support from all the local authorities to bring forward the regeneration of the Showground. There is a huge amount of work to be done and we will of course continue to work very closely with the county and district councils on this. Our aim, after detailed consultation with all parties, is to submit a planning application later this year.

‘These plans will take 12 to 15 years to complete in full, but we hope to make significant progress with the major tourist and business elements before the end of 2012.’

The masterplan includes:

  • Exhibition and conference centre
  • Hotels
  • Commercial units for businesses including start-ups
  • Visitor destination specialist retail
  • Log cabin holiday homes in wooded area
  • Outdoor pursuits and adventure attractions
  • Community orchards
  • Cycle trail and bridleway all round the site
  • Eco Zone showcasing the best in sustainable living
The Society is working in partnership with regeneration experts London & Wharfedale. The directors of London & Wharfedale have an exceptional record of working with local authorities and major companies on redevelopment projects across England and Wales. The developer was selected after a rigorous selection process during which London & Wharfedale impressed the Society not only by its submission and track record, but also by its vision and the financial inward investment it has secured for the project.

Richard Froggatt FRICS, chairman and managing director of London & Wharfedale, 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.

’ Andrew Bull, regional director at LaSalle Investment Management, said: ‘This is an exceptional opportunity for the South West. We are looking beyond the current economic gloom for the outstanding projects of the future. We believe that the redevelopment of the Bath & West showground is a leading project of regional importance.’ The renowned architectural practice Stephen George & Partners will be working on building design and planning issues.

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