Beechen Cliff deal falls through

Beechen Cliff from Southgate Street.
Beechen Cliff from Southgate Street.

Plans to hand over the running of Bath’s historic Beechen Cliff to the National Trust and secure a multi-million pound investment in the woodland have fallen through.

The cliffs, which offer some of most iconic views of Bath in the city, are in need of significant investment and Bath and North East Somerset Council had been in negotiations to transfer responsibility for them to the National Trust, who it was hoped would be able to raise the funds needed to restore the cliffs to their former glory.

The National Trust had been planning to launch a £2 million fundraising drive to invest in its sites in and around Bath, including Beechen Cliff, with the Council providing a £500,000 endowment to help kick-start the efforts.

However, Conservative councillors have learned that negotiations between the Council and National Trust broke down after the Trust’s Central Acquisitions Panel rejected the Council’s proposals.

Conservatives have expressed disappointment at the news the transfer will longer go ahead, and are urging the Council to bring forward alternative proposals to enable the cliffs to be brought up to standard.  They have said that the £500,000 the Council was planning to give to the National Trust should still be invested in improving the maintenance of the cliffs.

Conservative Deputy Leader Cllr Patrick Anketell-Jones said:

“It’s clearly disappointing that that these plans have fallen through, having been discussed for several years.  The transfer of the Beechen Cliff woodland to the National Trust offered an opportunity to secure a much-needed investment in the cliffs and bring them up to the standard they deserve.  So it’s a real shame the Council was not able to secure final agreement from the Trust’s national board.

“The Council should now bring forward alternative proposals setting out what it plans to do instead to restore the cliffs to their former glory and keep them better maintained.  As a start, the endowment which the Council was due to give to the National Trust as part of the handover should remain ring-fenced to be investment in restoring the cliffs and preserving the woods for future generations, and this is what we will be pressing the Council to do.”