Could historic hall be our new music venue?

PREPARATIONS are being made for a bid to gain funding to enable a disused Leamington church to be used as the home for Warwickshire’s music service.

The grade II listed United Reformed Church in Spencer Street had been earmarked as a potential new site for the Loft Theatre but its chairman Michael Rayns said last month that it now plans to move away from the area.

Discussions have taken place between Warwick District Council and potential partners and as a result it plans to be in position by spring 2013 to make a bid for significant funds for the church to be used as the headquarters for Warwickshire County Music Service.

Ray Smith, the council’s enterprise development manager who has been involved in Old Town projects including the Court Street Creative Arches and the Althorpe Enterprise Hub, said: “It is very early days but we are exploring the possibility that the building would be suitable for the service to house all of its services and there will be a feasibility study to see of the building can provide the space required.

“This would be a substantial project and we are hoping to be in a position to apply for grant funding in spring next year.”

If it is found to be suitable, the church would provide office space for the service, rehearsal space and an area for public performances.

The venue would be open to the wider community with opportunities for groups to rent the space.

While this project could resolve the issue of how to bring the church back into use, the issue of how to best regenerate the wider area will not be addressed by this alone. The council is aware that the key to a wider 
development of the area as a hub for arts, digital and creative industries remains the Loft Theatre site.

Members of the council’s executive will meet on Wednesday to discuss the possibility of forming a limited liability partnership with a public sector company.

One of the tasks for this partnership could be to evaluate how sufficient value could be generated to enable the relocation of the theatre to free up the site for alternative use.

Development of the wider area, including Victoria Colonade and Victoria Terrace, would also be considered along with a bridge linking the area to the Pump Room.