A COMMUNITY group described as being part of the ‘DNA of Leamington’ have spoken of their disappointment after council chiefs opted to not allow them to move back into their spiritual home.
Bath Place was gutted by fire in 2009 and the Victorian school building has laid all but empty since.
It was put on the market by owners Warwickshire County Council back in August and among those in the running to secure the site were former occupants, Bath Place Community Venture (BPCV).
But at a meeting on Thursday May 8, county council chiefs agreed to support another scheme – meaning the group will not be able to return to their former home.
Group spokesman Clayton Denwood told The Observer: “We are, of course, hugely disappointed that Cabinet has decided against our proposal given we have spent more than 18 months and a considerable amount of charitable funds towards the goal of redeveloping Bath Place.
“We obviously feel our plan provides the best option for local people given the wide support from the local community, our partner organisations, Leamington Town Council and the Leamington Building Conservation Trust.
“We’d like to thank everyone who has supported us over these difficult months and especially our local county councillors Bill Gifford, Matt Western, Jon Chilvers and Jenny St. John who have given much of their time to help argue our case as well as Chris White MP, who has also assisted us and offered so much support and guidance on social value.”
It is understood the group plan to call-in the decision to the council’s overview and scrutiny committee, which could potentially see the original decision overturned.
Mr Denwood added: “We understand the pressures on county council finances at the moment but we still believe we can be a part of the long-term solution to making sure that South Leamington has adequate services and community support.”
BPCV was a hub of activity providing a café offering value meals, volunteering opportunities, a nursery and mental health services for three decades prior to the devastating blaze that made them homeless.
And although a decision on how an £876,000 insurance payout will be allocated was originally postponed, the Cabinet decided the money would be used to help reduce the council’s debt as part of the budget agreed in December.