Fallback plan for Leamington branch of House of Fraser gets green light

House of Fraser in Leamington. NNL-190104-165438001
House of Fraser in Leamington. NNL-190104-165438001

Planning permission has been granted for a complex consisting of a gym and small cinema in case House of Fraser closes or moves its branch in Leamington.

The plans, prepared on behalf of COREM Investment Management (COREM), are for a change of use of 76-86 the Parade which has been occupied by the department store for decades.

The future of the House of Fraser branch is unclear after its parent company’s acquisition by Sports Direct which has agreed a short-term lease deal with the landlord while all parties consider their options.

Corem’s report says: “Given this uncertainty, the Landlord is exploring alternative beneficial uses for the Site in the event of HoF’s vacation to maintain its future beneficial use, and to minimise any vacancy that may arise.

“In turn, this will protect the vitality and viability of Leamington town centre.”

The plans include a gym, retail space , financial and professional services and a restaurant or cafe in the building’s basement.

The ground floor would include retail, financial and professional services, a restaurant or cafe, an ancillary gym and an office.

The first floor would include retail, financial and professional services and a restaurant or cafe and the second floor would be an office.

They also include a cinema on the ground and first floors.

The report refers to Warwick District Council’s Retail and Leisure Study published in July 2018, which identifies the closure of ‘major national multiples’ as a potential future threat to the vitality and viability of the town centre and and the importance of promoting incentives to increase footfall and dwell times.

It states: “It is clear that the demand for retail floor space is for smaller scale retail.”

A public exhibition of the plans was held in November last year.

The report states: “The public exhibition attracted 41 visitors and 27 written consultation responses during the event.

“Feedback received was overwhelmingly positive, with 100 per cent of respondents agreeing that the proposals would ensure the beneficial use of the building and benefit its long-term future.”

House of Fraser, then called Rackhams, opened its store in place of an Army & Navy branch in Leamington in 1976.

It currently has about 200 employees.

The future of the branch is uncertain after its parent company went into administration before being bought by Sports Direct owned by billionaire retail entrepreneur Mike Ashley.