Council’s HQ move may face ‘considerable opposition’

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Plans to build a new head-quarters for Warwick District Council on open space in front of the Spa Centre have come under further criticism.

Members of the council’s executive committee discussed the plans to demolish Riverside House and to build new offices by the entertainment venue at a meeting last Thursday.

And while members agreed this was the most suitable site, they deferred the decision to confirm it as the one which will be used to go before full council at a later date .

Councillors, including overview and scrutiny committee chairman Ann Blacklock (Lib Dem, Kenilworth Abbey), have raised concerns about the loss of open space and parking at the new site.

But council leader Andrew Mobbs (Con, Kenilworth St Johns) said any delays to what has been proposed as a cost-cutting exercise would cost the authority £350,000 a year in annual savings.

Cllr Mobbs said: “When the council moved to Riverside House several years ago it was a decision made by the full council and in light of that there is a desire for the full council to do this again.

“This will give councillors time to fully understand the facts and to make an informed decision.

“But I’m still of the belief that this is the right site and I want something that will be a landmark building that will improve the town.

“We have got to get this right but we have been accused of rushing this when this option has been looked at for some years.”

Vincent Ford, a Warwickshire architect who has taken a specific interest in the plans, has said that, in light of the concerns, the authority should seriously consider alternative sites.

These are Leamington town hall, which he said could have its floor area increased, and Chandos Street car park - earmarked for a new shopping centre which Mr Ford said is not needed.

He added: “This idea should have been hit on the head from the start due to its contravention of old and new planning policies.

“There is no doubt that when the formal planning application for offices on this site is submitted it will have considerable opposition. “

In a letter to the Courier (see pages 26 and 27) Leamington Society chairman Richard Ashworth has said the plans are being driven by a “desperate push for a short term budgetary fix.”