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Dyson may withdraw funding for Wilkinson Eyre's Bath academy

Inventor James Dyson has threatened to pull the plug on his plans for a £56 million academy in Bath, designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects.

The man behind the bagless vacuum cleaner has stated that ‘bureaucratic’ delays in the planning system have led him to consider pulling his £12 million funding for the engineering school of excellence.

The decision follows Planning Minister Baroness Andrews’ decision to call in the scheme due to objections from the Environment Agency over flood risks.

A statement from the James Dyson Foundation (JDF) said: ‘The inquiry is a scandalous waste of time and money. The Secretary of State already has enough facts to reach a decision.

‘The trustees will now seriously consider whether to direct funds towards further legal costs or move on to new projects.’

Dyson’s plans for the new school have been dogged since its inception four years ago, particularly by objections from conservationists – the 10,888m2 school will see the part-demolition of Thomas Fuller's Grade II-listed, 19th-century Newark Works.

However, the project was granted planning permission back in March.

The JDF said: ‘The scheme is well supported, with the notable exception of the Environment Agency, which, despite our attempts, has refused face-to-face discussions. As a charity we’ve already spent £3.5 million and four years on the project, overcoming endless bureaucratic hurdles.’

Speaking to the Bath Chronicle, the Environment Agency’s area manager Nick Gupta said: ‘The Environment Agency has been working with Mr Dyson's agents for more than two years and have had numerous face-to-face meetings. The South Quays site falls within an area with the highest risk of flooding. The flood risk is predicted to increase in the future due to the effects of climate change.

‘The Environment Agency is upholding the latest planning guidance issued by the government which warns against the use of such a high-risk site for educational purposes.’

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