October 28th, 2016

Leamington Old Town multi-million Cultural Quarter plans

Updated: 2:57 pm, May 07, 2015

MULTI-MILLION pound plans to breathe new life into Leamington’s Old Town are set to be revived and expanded.

It could see the town’s library relocated and a new footbridge built across the River Leam linking the Pump Rooms and

Spencer Yard.

A bid to create a Cultural Quarter at Spencer Yard, off Spencer Street, stalled four years ago after Advantage West Midlands withdrew £5million funding towards the project.

There were plans to include new restaurants, work spaces, and even homes, and for The Loft Theatre to possibly move to the empty United Reform Church (URC). Some buildings were refurbished and are now home to successful creative businesses including Motionhouse dance company and Heartbreak Productions.

But Warwick District Council is now looking at a new bigger scheme which could also incorporate the Pump Rooms to create a so-called Cultural and Creative Quarter – a wider regeneration of the area on both sides of the Leam including the Pump Room Gardens.

A report set to go before councillors next week maintains while the art gallery and museum should remain at the historic Pump Rooms, the library could be relocated to a new home.

This would allow for a change in the use of the space – for everything from exhibitions to food outlets – and also the inclusion of a footbridge linking the Pump Rooms to Spencer Yard.

The council owns the Grade II-listed Pump Rooms, and also the URC, together with existing Spencer Yard buildings – The North Hall, the West Wing buildings, and the ‘Old Dole Office’, which are all earmarked for being incorporated into the proposed project.

The report also says a number of privately-owned buildings in the area are under-utilised and in need of investment.

It also states while the Loft Theatre has no current plans to relocate “an improved theatre could become a major asset” as part of the redevelopment of the area.

Council chiefs believe the new scheme would bring major economic benefits for the area, including creating new jobs.

The report to councillors says: “The transformed area could become an up-market, bright, vital and distinct ‘branded’ destination and attraction to the district.

“It could fuse together the existing rich historic archgitecture with a modern twist to create a cosmopolitan feel. This hub could provide work spaces for creative uses – artistic, educational, digital, computer gaming, performance, training and craft based businesses, along with complementary catering businesses, cafes and restaurants. All of these could provide opportunities for the creation of new micro-businesses.

“The environment could be based around refurbished and new buildings, and active public spaces, with public art throughout, creating an interesting, vibrant and ‘intelligent’ attraction for all the family.”

The project is in its early stages and council officers are now set to hold talks with the likes of Leamington Town Council, The Leamington Society, Friends of Leamington Art Gallery, and Leamington BID.

What do YOU think? Email editor@leamingtonobserver.co.uk.

Leamington Pump Rooms – a new chapter could be written in its history. (s)