October 24th, 2016

Cultural Quarter plans must include library call

Cultural Quarter plans must include library call Cultural Quarter plans must include library call
Updated: 3:13 pm, May 07, 2015

LEAMINGTON Library should form part of plans for a Cultural Quarter in the town.

Warwick District Council has revived proposals to turn Spencer Yard behind Spencer Street into a creative hub, but this time also including the Pump Rooms linked by a new footbridge across the Leam. The proposals, drawn up by council officers, included the possible re-location of the current library from the the Pump Rooms to a new home.

But while the new proposals for a so-called Cultural and Creative Quarter were welcomed by councillors when first discussed at an executive committee meeting, they were unanimous the library, housed in what was the former swimming baths, should be included somewhere within the project.

District council leader Coun Andrew Mobbs said: “We are all smart enough to play chess, but this development is like a jigsaw puzzle and we all need to step back and look at where the pieces fit. After we judge all the possibilities, we should have a good idea in the beginning of next year.

“The library is not just about books, it serves its purpose as a hub for the whole district and deserves its place at the heart of the Cultural Quarter.”

The committee welcomed the overall project which it is hoped will breathe new life into the Old Town area.

It could see the riverside area given a facelift and private investment would help to the upkeep of the Pump Rooms which is set to cost around £130,000 over the next three decades.

The project would look to bring a number of empty building back into use including the landmark United Reform Church on Spencer Street – which is owned by the council and which has been derelict for a number of years.

Coun Susan Gallagher: “The Spencer Yard area, and particularly the Victoria Colonnade, is crying out for development. There is so much potential in that area to become another key hub for the area, especially if we link that area to the Pump Rooms with the newly proposed footbridge.

“It even has the potential to become as attractive as the Parade.

“We can combine the old traditional feeling to the area with the exciting possibilities of the new Cultural Quarter.”

Plans to create a Cultural Quarter at Spencer Yard fell apart in 2010 after Advantage West Midlands withdrew £5 million funding for the project, although some buildings were refurbished.

The council will be holding further talks with interested parties such as The Leamington Society, Friends of Leamington Art Gallery, and Leamington BID.