9th Dec, 2019

Concern raised over future of Leamington landmarks after green light given for Creative Quarter

Laura Kearns 29th Nov, 2019

CONCERN has been raised over the future of Leamington landmarks after the green light was given for work to start on the town’s Creative Quarter.

Warwick District Council has approved its development partner Complex Development Experts (CDP) to turn Spencer Yard and the adjacent former United Reformed Church into a pop-up events space and room for creative businesses.

Work is scheduled to be completed ahead of the town hosting the bowls tournament during the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Later plans include turning Bath Place car park into affordable housing and a hub for food markets and creative businesses.

But some residents are concerned about the next stage of plans, which could include the development or sale of the Town Hall.

And a report by CDP said while plans for the Pump Rooms were currently off the table they may be looked at again in future.

Leamington Together – a group of residents and businesses – are calling for the council to keep the Town Hall and Pump Rooms under public ownership following concerns they could be sold.

Group spokesman Charles Bourne said: “The Creative Quarter initiative depends on handing over the town’s public buildings to CDP for commercial ‘repurposing’ and possible sale.

“To safeguard our civic values and community opportunities for current and future generations, the Pump Rooms, library and Town Hall must be completely removed from CDP’s plans.

“We want to take back control. Verbal promises are not adequate. We need a solid commitment they will remain in public ownership, for our community and future generations.”

But CDP says it has recommended to the district council that any landmark buildings remain under council ownership.

A spokeswoman said: “We have recommended landmark heritage buildings such as the Pump Rooms and the Town Hall stay in the ownership of WDC or are transferred into a charitable trust to ensure community access is maintained.

“WDC will be carrying out further consultation and working with the existing occupiers to progress plans for these buildings.

“Meanwhile, there is a strong desire from the council and stakeholders to deliver improvements in the Creative Quarter ahead of the Commonwealth Games, and Spencer Yard is an exciting opportunity to showcase the beginnings of what the Creative Quarter has to offer by mid-2021.”

Council chiefs said the Pump Rooms were not part of the Creative Quarter project and plans for the Town Hall – which previously included a possible restaurant and cinema – were on hold.

A spokeswoman said: “Proposals for the Town Hall have been put on hold pending further work to be undertaken by the council. This will be done in consultation with the town council and will review management and ownership options and possible future uses of the building in the event the council vacates it.

“Only once this is complete will we consider possible future uses for the Town Hall.”

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