Mary Portas bid to revitalise Leamington old town

By Kevin Unitt 21/06 Updated: 22/06 08:41

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Community events in old town - such as the popular annual festival on the Grand Union Canal - demonstrate the community spirit in the area. 19.09.025.leam.jm7

A GROUP of residents and business owners in Leamington old town are pushing for £100,000 of Mary Portas money to help “enliven and revitalise” the area.

Towns such as Warwick recently missed out on a share of £1 million from the 'Portas Pilot' scheme– aimed at breathing life into struggling high streets across the country – but the bid brought residents and businesses bosses together.

And with a second round of funding now available – which will see a further 12 towns scoop £100,000 each – a bid has been launched in the south town area of Leamington.

Project leader Jeremy Ireland explained: “Old town has come a long way but there is more that can be done to encourage shoppers and customers, and this would really help us to make positive change.

“We need landlords and local businesses and authorities to commit to matching funding and supporting the scheme if we are to be successful.

“We also welcome all views, be they positive or negative, as we formulate our bid.”

The group are now putting together final plans to produce a three-minute promotional video which will be submitted as their official bid by the end of June, with winners announced in August.

The group believe old town can become a centre for 'arts, creativity and innovation', developing more of a 'café culture' that can retain customers for longer.

One key initiative is to use disused railway infrastructure in the heart of old town as the Leamington's ‘fourth plinth’.  

The group also want to see low-cost initiatives such as historic trails established to express pride in the area, as well as working with councils and landlords to reduce the number of neglected and empty properties.

Helen Wild, member of the Old Town Business Association, said: “Our ambition is to breathe new life into old town.  

"We want to revitalise the area to make it a welcoming place to be, celebrate its heritage, and find ways to support smart start-ups that will both offer opportunities for up-and-coming businesses and restore old town as a thriving hub of the community.”

To have your say on the scheme contact Mr Ireland on 07968 742102 or visit the Facebook group entitled 'Mary Portas Bid South Leamington Old Town'.

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The project team. (s)

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