A SCATHING attack has been launched on Warwick District Council’s plans for a new headquarters.
Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western has from the start been against the council moving its headquarters from Riverside house to a new purpose-built hq on the site of Covent Garden car park. The Riverside House site on Milverton Hill will see a development of up to a 170 new homes.
The new offices, which are expected to cost somewhere in the region of £8.6million, will be completely paid for by the new housing development while the council will be funding the new £9.75million car park which will replace Covent Garden.
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.
But Mr Western says providing no affordable homes on the land goes against government protocol and that local authorities have been urged to prioritise social housing.
He also believes the demolishing and re-building of Covent Garden car park is a waste of council money.
Mr Western said: “Surely the council should be using any capital budgets to build much needed council housing to address the 2400-long housing waiting list? It really is a case of wrong priorities – especially when the county council does have spare office space and Leamington Town Hall is vacant.
“Many people tell me how surprised they are that the council is proposing to build a new purpose-built office on Covent Garden car park.
“This is the wrong development, at the wrong time, in the wrong place.”
But Conservative council leader Andrew Mobbs said the plans had not yet been finalised.
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.”