Objectors to hold rally in Leamington against council's HQ relocation plans following public meeting

Residents and business owners will hold a rally to protest Warwick District Council's plans to relocate its offices and build new houses on its current headquarters.

Tuesday, 13th November 2018, 10:36 am
Updated Wednesday, 14th November 2018, 9:36 am
L-R Cllr Peter Whiting, Bill Hunt (deputy chief executive of WDC), Cllr Andrew Mobbs, Cllr Moira-Ann Grainger, Robert Hoof head of WDCs neighbourhood services. (right) Phil Upton of BBC CWR.

The rally, organised by the Leamington Together group, will take place outside Leamington Town Hall from 12.30pm on Saturday (November 17).

Leaflets for the rally were handed out at a public meeting about the council's controversial plans which took place at the Spa Centre last night (Monday November 12).

Hundreds of people attended the event to express their grave concerns about various aspects of the plans.

CGI of Warwick District Council's plans for its new headquarters building in Leamington town centre.

Objectors' main issues are the loss of car parking in the town centre while the Covent Garden multi-storey car park is closed and rebuilt as part of a multi-purpose development including new offices for the council, luxury apartments and a larger car park.

Those who own businesses in the town centre, including Russell Allen of butcher Aubrey Allen believe this could be catastrophic for them.

Steph Kerr, the director of BID Leamington which represents businesses in the town, spoke at the meeting and said parking displacement plans were still not sufficient with Covent Garden due to be closed in ten weeks time.

Another major issue concerning residents, particularly those living near the council's current Riverside House headquarters in Milverton Hill, is the loss of tens of trees from the site which will be cut down when up to 170 new homes are built there as part of the relocation project.

This development will not include any affordable homes - something which has angered both residents and Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western who has been outspoken in his opposition to the plans.

Before the meeting, the council's leader Cllr Andrew Mobbs (Con, Kenilworth Park Hill) responded to concerns about the plans in his weekly column in the Courier.

Cllr Mobbs was part of the panel who took questions from the public at the meeting last night.

He was joined by Cllr Peter Whiting (Con, Arden), the portfolio holder for finance, Cllr Moira-Ann Grainger (Con, Woodloes) the portfolio holder for neighbourhood services, Bill Hunt who is the council's deputy chief executive and the council's head of neighbourhood services Robert Hoof.

The meeting was independently chaired by by Phil Upton, of BBC Coventry and Warwickshire Radio.

Closing the meeting he said: "I appreciate that many of you who have attended this evening have not had satisfactory answers.

"I appreciate that many of you have deep concerns about this project from an environmental and financial point of view."

Leamington Together have said: "Leamington Together was delighted at the turnout for last night's public meeting.

"In excess of 500 people attended what was their first opportunity to confront the councillors responsible for this project.

"It did not go unnoticed that the main architects of this plan are all Kenilworth councillors, and it is clear that the Leamington community feels profoundly excluded from the decision making process that is poised to paralyse their town centre.

"From the response of the audience, there is clearly no appetite for WDC's current plan with wide-ranging concerns being voiced on a variety of issues including the opaque financial arrangements behind the venture; the risk involved; the lack of social and affordable housing; the threat to our environment, especially to the town's trees and its air quality; the catastrophic effect the scheme will have on town centre retail and other businesses, and finally the woefully inadequate displacement arrangements for parking.

"Leamington Together urges WDC to think again, to look at the very real alternative solutions to their office accommodation requirement, replace Covent Garden car park as quickly and safely as possible, and go back to the drawing board."

For more information about the campaign against the plans click here or search for Leam Together on Facebook.

To email your objections to your ward councillor click here.