New council hq plans set to get go-ahead - The Leamington Observer

New council hq plans set to get go-ahead

Leamington Editorial 4th Jan, 2018   0

CONTROVERSIAL plans for a new Warwick District Council headquarters in Leamington, and to build homes on the site of its current offices, are set to get the go-ahead.

An application was recently submitted to build some 170 houses and flats on the current Riverside House hq on Milverton Hill.

The building would become available if the council’s second application to build new offices on the site of Covent Garden car park in Russell Street is also approved.

Both applications are set to be discussed by the district council’s planning committee on Tuesday (January 9), with councillors expected to back them.

If granted, Covent Garden car park would be demolished to make way for a five-storey council office building, also containing 44 apartments. A replacement car park with more than 600 spaces would also be built.

A number of complaints have been received in relation to the application, with concerns raised about noise from nearby nightclubs affecting those living in the apartments, and residents also argue the building is out of keeping with the town’s Regency style.

Many who have written to object to the applications say the council could use space at the town hall for much less than the some £9million needed to build new offices, which would be funded by the Riverside House development. The council would fund the new £9.75million car park.

The council’s current building on Milverton Hill would be demolished to make way for up to 170 new homes, although it is not yet clear whether these would be flats or houses. None of these would be social housing.

Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western is one of the some 70 people who have written to the council to oppose the developments.

He said: “The council should not be spending almost £9million on a development for itself in the current climate. The people of Warwick district have been battered by austerity in recent years and local services have been significantly reduced.

“Public sector cuts mean that communities are losing children’s centres, social care is at a crisis point and all services are suffering. In such a challenging environment, many people tell me how surprised they are that the District Council is proposing to build a new office.”

And resident Nick Bond was one of many who objected on the grounds of lack of affordable housing.

All developments should include a minimum of 40 per cent affordable and social housing, but the application mentions none.

Mr Bond said: “I oppose this application on the grounds that there is no provision for affordable housing or social housing. There is a critical shortage of such accommodation in Leaminigton and I cannot understand why our council would not wish to take advantage of this development opportunity to begin to rectify matters.”

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