A REGENERATION project to turn Leamington’s Old Town into a magnet for creative industries has received a welcome cash injection.
The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has stumped up £3 million towards enabling developer Complex Development Projects to restore and convert three rundown buildings off Spencer Street, including the Grade II listed United Reformed Church. The buildings will be converted to provide modern office space for creative and digital businesses.
The Neo-Classical style church, which dates back to 1838, has stood empty and unused for decades and will be fully restored along with two neighbouring buildings, the Crown building and a former nursery.
With WMCA funding now available, all three buildings will be converted into more than 18,000 square foot of modern office space for the town’s growing digital creative sector, which has earned Leamington the nickname Silicon Spa.
The £45.5 million Spencer Yard scheme, which is expected to create more than 140 jobs, is being delivered by CDP as the first phase of a 10-year partnership regeneration programme with Warwick District Council.
WDC has already secured part funding for the project through a successful bid to the government’s Future High Street Fund.
The funding from the WMCA’s Collective Investment Fund is the latest under the combined authority’s nationally acclaimed housing and regeneration programme which is regenerating hundreds of acres of run-down urban plots and derelict industrial sites – often referred to as brownfield – to deliver new homes, jobs and commercial spaces for the region.
Investments are also being made by the WMCA to help breathe new life into the region’s town centres and high streets, helping to drive the region’s economic recovery while relieving pressure to build in the green belt.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA chair, said: “Spencer Yard is another wonderful example of how the WMCA is helping to unlock scores of sites that were previously considered too difficult to deliver.
“Thanks to the substantial funding we’ve secured from government for our ‘brownfield first’ approach to development, we’ve been able to restore historic buildings like Leamington’s United Reform Church – repurposing the space to meet the needs of cutting-edge 21st century industries while preserving it for future generations to enjoy.
“Digital is the golden thread that increasingly runs right through all aspects of the modern working world and is central to building the high skilled, high wage economy of the future.
“We will continue to work with Warwick District Council – and indeed other local authorities – to regenerate derelict sites and drive economic growth in the months and years ahead.”
Leamington and the surrounding area is a prime location for the tech and creative sector in the West Midlands, which research shows is the most established destination for the industry outside London.
WDC Leader Coun Andrew Day said: “This is another vote of confidence in the future of Leamington Spa.
“Along with the Future High Streets funding, significant investment has been marshalled to transform this underutilised area to establish a vibrant and innovative hub for our creative and digital industries.
“Once these amazing buildings have been reimagined and revealed, heads will be turned across the country, helping to attract further exciting businesses, innovators and start-up companies into our wonderful town.”
Ian Harrabin, managing director of CDP, added: “The funding provided by WMCA has been instrumental in enabling this project to be delivered in this difficult financial climate.
“Digital creative companies are attracted to Leamington because of the character and vitality of its town centre and the quality of life that helps them attract the best employees.
“But there is very little space available, and this project is the first of several to help satisfy this demand. It is great that we have not only been able to save important heritage but also to give it an economic life that will secure its future.”