23rd Aug, 2019

Warwick and Leamington MP taking battle to stop new council offices to Parliament

Laura Kearns 5th Jan, 2018 Updated: 5th Jan, 2018

THE battle to stop development of new council offices is being taken to Parliament.

Warwick District Council has revealed plans to sell off its current base at Riverside House on Milverton Hill to make way for a 140 homes.

It would then build new offices on the site of Covent Garden car park in Leamington town centre.

But Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western has called an urgent parliamentary debate on Wednesday (January 10) to discuss the plans.

He says residents ‘staunchly’ oppose the proposals for several reasons, including there being no affordable or social homes planned on the Riverside House site – which goes against the council’s policy for large developments to include a minimum of 40 per cent affordable housing.

He also says the redevelopment of Covent Garden car park will have a huge impact on parking in Leamington.

And Mr Western also believes the council should not be building new offices at a time of austerity.

He said: “The proposed development is the wrong priority and completely flawed. I have organised a debate with a government minister where I will voice the concerns of many residents about the proposal.

“In a supposed era of austerity the vast majority of people believe that the council is being profligate with scarce financial resources.

“Councils have shrunk considerably in recent years due to central government funding cuts, despite the rising need for services. Warwick District and Warwickshire County Council are no exceptions, with the latter experiencing almost 50 per cent cuts since 2010.

“Crucially, the council is not presenting alternative options to the public and presenting this as a ‘done deal’. Unsurprisingly, local residents want and deserve better.”

The MP has launched an urgent petition against the new HQ plans which has gained more than 200 signatures in a matter of days.

He said: “This is the wrong development, at the wrong time, in the wrong place.”

But Warwick District Council says the MP is wrong about the funding of the scheme and that they believe it can only be a good thing for the town.

They also say Mr Western has not contacted them about the development – something the MP disputes.

A district council spokesman said: “Mr Western has not been in contact with the district council to request any information to assist his planned discussion in Parliament.

“His current and previous comments on the proposed developments appear to be based on a number of misunderstandings as to how the scheme will be funded, the positive benefits it will deliver for the Leamington economy and the process the council has gone through before determining its approach to relocating its offices, an approach that received cross party support.

“The applications for the proposed redevelopment of the Riverside House and Covent Garden sites will be considered by the district council’s planning committee on Tuesday (January 9) and the committee will make its decisions after careful consideration of the planning merits of each application as they do for every application that they determine.”

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