A MULTI-STOREY car park in Leamington town centre could be demolished to make way for a Community Wellbeing Hub.
Warwick District Council (WDC) ruling cabinet is set to discuss the future of the ageing Covent Garden car park next week.
A report shows the nine level car park, built in 1960, is suffering from structural issues – chiefly alkali-silica reaction, more commonly known as concrete cancer – which could cost millions of pounds in maintenance and repair costs.
Given the report, WDC’s cabinet is recommended to support the demolition of the car park, which had 516 bays in total before the closure of the top two levels, and commission a feasibility study into a possible future site for a Community Wellbeing Hub.
Organisations who have expressed an interest in being part of such a hub include GP services, associated health services such as mental health support and South Warwickshire Citizens Advice.
There is also the possibility of the Job Centre re-locating and The Post Office has voiced interest.
WDC – which had been considering redeveloping the site and relocating its offices there before the proposal was dropped in 2019 – could also provide some services from a potential hub, as could Warwickshire County Council.
A report to the cabinet reads: “It is recognised that health and wellbeing have an important role to play in the town centre, in supporting both social and economic recovery on the high street, particularly in response to the pandemic.
“The council has a key role in helping to shape the town centre beyond the pandemic, and in bringing community and services together. A local GP practice has expressed interest in expanding, in line with the increasing population in the area, and these services sit well with other community and health-based services.
“Other health bodies have expressed interest in co-locating, and there is also scope for community focussed, but non-NHS activity (Post Office, Job Centre).
“There is clear evidence of a willingness for these partners to come together, collaborate, and to re-develop the site with a community focus, in a scheme that is vastly different to the previous scheme for the site.
“There have been discussions with health providers and community-focussed businesses to understand both current and future needs in Leamington and within Warwick district.
“This discussion has been held in the context of the pandemic having demonstrated a change in how the community use the town centre and its services. The council needs to consider how to support both services and the town centre in the future in this changed context.
“The opportunity is that by bringing services together in the town centre to form a
“Community Wellbeing Hub,” it can make these services accessible for the whole community, positively promoting wellbeing, and it can also help to drive
footfall for businesses nearby improving income generation.”