MULTI-MILLION pound development plans in Leamington have been slammed for including no affordable housing.
Warwick District Council and its development partner Public Sector Plc have formally submitted two linked planning applications as PSP Warwick LLP – for a new council headquarters, s new multi-storey car park and 44 apartments on the site of the current Covent Garden car park in Leamington’s town centre.
And an outline application has also been put in for the redevelopment of the council’s current Riverside House headquarters for up to 170 new homes.
But neither applications include any affordable housing, which according to council policy should account for 40 per cent on all major development sites.
Coun Kristie Naimo said: “The LLP are determined to squeeze every ounce of profit out of the scheme and that leaves us with zero per cent affordable housing, directly at odds with WDC’s own policy restated in the new Local Plan. One has to ask whether this ‘arms length’ organisation is the right vehicle to deliver this project.
“This is not what was expected from the feasibility study. It’s simply not the right priority for our council. We should be taking a step back and rethinking the project altogether. Why the urgency to build this new HQ? We need new housing but with the right mix and this clearly isn’t going to be the solution.”
But Conservative council leader Andrew Mobbs accused Labour councillors of failing to see the bigger picture.
He told The Observer: “We can all be disappointed that the applications are based on no affordable housing being delivered, but even this statement should be treated with care. Although the applications suggest none will be delivered, the financial assumptions this is based on will be rigorously and independently tested before the planning committee make their decision on the two applications, so it’s rather premature to conclude this will be the final position.”
He added focusing on the lack of affordable housing missed the many benefits the relocation project would bring.
As well as an estimated £300,000 savings in operating costs, council chiefs say the move will provide a £50million investment into the town, jobs, apprenticeships and training during construction, as well as a massive boost to the town centre economy.
He said: “It’s easy to cast stones when you’re in opposition but I lead a council that considers the big picture so that it can deliver real benefits for local people.”
The council hope the new HQ, housing and car park at Covent Garden will be completed by October 2018.