Architect is concerned about HQ move plans

An architect has criticised current plans to build a new headquarters for Warwick District Council on open space in Leamington.

At a recent meeting the council’s executive members voted to press on with plans to build the new offices in front of the Spa Centre in Newbold Terrace as part of a cost cutting exercise which involves the sale of its current Riverside House headquarters in Milverton Hill.

But Vincent Ford, who attended the meeting, has questioned whether the site is suitable,

Mr Ford said: “Such open space is of premium value within a town environment and this fact has been established by the council which approved the site in question as top priorty, equivalent to Jephson Gardens, as recently as 2012 in its Parks and Open Spaces Audit.

“It’s remarkable that in the council’s report on the proposal it states that ‘successful pre-application meetings have been held between the Limited Liability Partnership and the town planning department’ this insinuates that our head of development is prepared to contravene the council’s own planning policy.

“If any private party were to propose filling prime public open space with a block of offices they would be given very short change by the planning department.”

At the meeting, overview and scrutiny chairman Cllr Ann Blacklock (Lib Dem, Kenilworth Abbey) said the siting of the new headquarters had caused a lot of disquiet among committee members.

She said: “One area of concern was the affect on the Spa Centre, which is sited at one of the most appreciated open spaces in Leamington.

“There are also enormous concerns about car parking. This is a real problem that has been seriously underestimated.”

Council leader Andrew Mobbs underlined his confidence in the officers overseeing the plans, which he has described as a “visionary and cost-effective way forward.”

For letters concerning the plan see pages 28 and 29.