Suggestions that Leamington’s historic town hall could be turned into a cinema or restaurant have been condemned by members of the town council.
Warwick District Council currently hold meetings in the 135-year-old hall but the conversion of upstairs was among the suggestions put forward by developers Complex Developments Projects (CDP).
In a report to this week’s executive meeting of the district council, it is suggested that the town hall be ‘repurposed’.
It recommended: “The space to be repurposed for leisure and community uses in consultation with existing tenants and with an aim to maximise footfall and accessibility.
“Three possible options are considered. The preferred option would include restaurant space, potentially a cinema on the upper floors, and could also potentially accommodate some of the existing meeting requirements through flexible use of the space.
“An alternative option would be to create a meeting place for creative businesses combined with some shared business space.
“A third option would maintain existing uses with a basic refurbishment being carried out.”
But another option was put forward at the meeting when Cllr Bill Gifford spoke on behalf of Royal Leamington Spa Town Council.
He told district councillors: “The town council feels that it could possibly take it on a peppercorn rent. It should certainly be an option that the town council takes control of the main town hall in the main town of the district.
“I have to say that we weren’t impressed by suggestions that there should be a great priority for it being a cinema or a restaurant rather than being used by the town council as its main building. That is the norm elsewhere in the district.
“There needs to be far greater cooperation on this matter. This is a public building and you say CPD wish it to be a public building. I want Warwick District Council to want it to remain a public building.”
Cllr Jonathan Nicholls (Lab Leamington Clarendon), who chairs the district council’s finance and audit scrutiny committee added: “I fully support Cllr Gifford’s remarks about the full involvement of the town council and I suspect there will be some form of consultation with the residents of the district about the future of the town hall.”
The meeting voted unanimously to accept the report into phase one of the collaboration with CPD and to move on to the next stage.