October 27th, 2016

Calls for more talk on Cultural Quarter plans

LACK of consultation into multi-million plans to develop Old Town could ‘ruin’ the area.

That is the fear of former Department of Transport adviser Adrian Gains, who is disappointed residents and local groups have not been asked for their opinion on the creation of a ‘Cultural Quarter’ incorporating both Spencer Yard and the Pump Rooms, including a footbridge over the Leam.

Warwick District Council unveiled the ambitious multi-million plans this time last year in a bid to to breathe new life into the area. If the project goes ahead, work is expected to cost £31million and could create some 300 jobs.

Council chiefs have also now revealed plans for a one-way gyratory system around Bath Street, High Street, Lower Avenue and Spencer Street.

But Mr Gains, who is a member of the Leamington Society, says the council have not consulted residents or community groups on proposals.

He told the Observer: “There has been little or no consultation with key stakeholders and the council have said the only people they have consulted are potential developers. This cannot be right.

“The Old Town has a strong identity and there are many businesses and residents who deserve the chance to influence its development.”

Mr Gains – a semi-retired management consultant – recently expressed concerns about the never ending stream of traffic choking Bath Street, and believes the plans would see an increase in both pollution and accidents.

He told The Observer: “The plan to turn Bath Street into a roundabout just doesn’t make sense. It is already an area suffering from high pollution and is an accident black spot. These plans would make it a lot worse.

“I quite like the idea of a creative quarter but let’s develop it in partnership with the local community and not behind closed doors.”

Warwick District Council leader Andrew Mobbs says they had not asked residents for their opinions as the plans were still in early stages.

Coun Mobbs added: “Councillors approved recommendations to progress the proposals at a recent executive meeting.

“The plans are still at a very early stage. The council will now work towards procuring a regeneration partner in January. It is only after the appointment of such a partner that any deliverable vision will become clear.

“Consequently the council has not undertaken former public consultation at this stage as there is no detailed vision or scheme to consult upon.

“When we get to that stage a consultation will be undertaken and probably take the form of an exhibition of drawings in the Pump Rooms.

“We are looking forward to developing this new hub for creative industries in Leamington. Warwick district is already home to a wide range of successful and nationally recognised creative enterprises and we hope this new development offers an exciting proposition for even more vibrant and interesting businesses wanting to set up in the area.”