A REGENERATION project to turn Leamington’s Old Town into a magnet for creative industries has begun.
Complex Development Projects (CDP), specialists in regeneration, has started work on the restoration of the Grade II listed United Reformed Church which will be converted to provide modern office space for creative and digital businesses. It includes the transformation of its crypts into office spaces and pods.
Two buildings facing Spencer Yard are also part of the project. The adjoining former nursery will be refurbished with a ground floor extension at the rear of its premises to provide office space with a rooftop terrace overlooking the church. A top floor extension will be added to the Dole Office which will provide space for smaller businesses.
The works are being undertaken as part of a funding package with a grant from the Future High Streets Fund as part of the Government’s plan to renew and reshape town centres – making them a more attractive place to live, work and visit.
CDP has partnered with Warwick District Council’s (WDC) for the overall 10-year Creative Quarter Initiative and is working on several projects with the council to galvanise creative activity in Old Town.
Sustainability is key to the project, with Spencer Yard set to become more pedestrian friendly with less car parking, more landscaping, lighting and a covered cycle storage area. Air source heat pumps and solar panels are also being added to the buildings.
WDC leader Andrew Day said: “This is a watershed moment, and we are excited at the prospect of seeing the long-awaited transformation of an underutilised area into a vibrant and innovative hub for our creative and digital industries. However, this is just the start of an ambitious Creative Quarter vision which will bring our town the massive boost and far-reaching recognition it deserves!”
CDP spokeswoman Katie Burn pointed out Spencer Yard was already a creative area with occupiers including Heartbreak Productions, Motionhouse and the Loft Theatre.
She said: “Our consultation showed there was a shortage of space for the digital creative sector to expand or locate within the town and it’s a key industry in Leamington with ten per cent of the UK’s gaming sector working in the area,” she said.
“It is great to be finally starting construction work after many months of preparation. The initial works to the chapel will provide a new roof and will take place under a temporary roof to protect the fine interiors during the winter months.
“Demand is strong from occupiers and we are already talking to businesses that will bring jobs to the town and boost the local economy.”