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Plan for Council and National Trust to manage Beechen Cliff on Bath Skyline

Dec 10

The National Trust has begun discussions with Bath & North East Somerset Council which could see the Trust taking on the care of Bath’s picturesque Beechen Cliffs site.

View of Bath City Centre from Beechen Cliff

At a meeting last night (Wednesday 5 December, 2012) the Council’s Cabinet agreed, in principle, to:

•Enter into an agreement whereby the future management and maintenance of Beechen Cliff may be undertaken by the National Trust in perpetuity. The Council would retain ownership of Beechen Cliff but transfer the ownership of the adjoining fields and allotments to the National Trust as a gift;
•Work with the National Trust on raising money to cover the cost of maintenance of Beechen Cliff and to create an endowment for the protection and maintenance of Lyncombe Farm fields and allotments in perpetuity;
•Contribute £500,000, less the costs of immediate tree safety works, for securing the future of Beechen Cliff woodland as included for Provisional Approval in the Capital Programme for 2012/2013, subject to third party negotiations and a detailed project proposal.
Councillor David Dixon (Lib-Dem, Oldfield), Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said: "This is an exciting proposition for Bath & North East Somerset Council to work with the National Trust to safely ensure the future protection and management of Beechen Cliff, the adjoining land and World Heritage Site skyline – accessing expertise and resources through joint funding opportunities and reducing the Council’s vulnerability to potential revenue pressures.

"The proposal should offer the best use and return on investment of the Council’s identified allocation for Beechen Cliff within its 2012-13 capital programme – transferring the management of the site this provides access to the National Trust’s expertise as well as potentially levering-in funding from an appeal to be launched by the Trust."

The proposal will shortly go to the National Trust’s Projects and Acquisitions group who will be looking closely at the details of the offer to manage Beechen Cliffs (in perpetuity) and to transfer the ownership of fields and the allotments at Lyncombe Hill Farm. This process will take place over a period up to April/May of next year.

Wendy Stott, the National Trust’s General Manager for Bath, said: "This is an exciting opportunity and important for the Trust because of the land’s position as a green backdrop to the views south from the city centre and its position close to land we own at the Bath Skyline and at Prior Park.

"We know that many people in Bath are keen for the National Trust to take on the management of Beechen Cliffs. With the 25th anniversary of Bath’s designation as a World Heritage Site, this is a chance to highlight the qualities that make the city special and, if the details are right and we can raise the money, we would hope to be able to look after these special places forever, to further enhance the green setting of the historic city centre.

"The National Trust will only take on new acquisitions such as Beechen Cliff if they are nationally important, if we are the most appropriate owner and if the acquisition can be financially self-supporting.

"If it goes ahead then initially the fields will be used for grazing, the allotments will continue and may even be extended and the woodland will be maintained as woodland. But we would also want to listen to people who live in Bath, who use the land and already enjoy it about what they want it to be used for in the future."

The current plans for the transfer of the land includes an endowment of up to £500,000 which will go some way towards the costs of maintenance and some essential tree works which need to be carried out. It is expected that a fund raising campaign would also be needed to ensure the land can be cared for properly in the future.

Press release from Bath & North East Somerset Council at: http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/latestnews/council-and-national-trust-major-new-initiative-celebrate-25th-anniversary-baths-world-heBath & North East Somerset Council logo and National Trust logo