Demolition work has started at the former Rio’s nightclub in Leamington as part of a project to turn the site into student flats.
Warwick district council approved the work back in December with Cllr Terry Morris (Con, Saltisford) describing the building in Bedford Street as “a boil on the backside of Leamington.”
But the club itself was popular over the years and was owned and run by former London Metropolitan policeman Chris Donnachie from when he bought it as Triggers for £64,000 in 1984 up to the end of 2015 going into 2016.
Speaking of his retirement in 2015, Mr Donnachie said: “I’ve done what I need to do but it’s not that I want to retire.
“I still like working on the front door and I find now I tend to talk my way out of situations more than I used to.
“I’ve never regretted doing what I do, it’s the fun of coming into work and not knowing how that night is going to be.
“I’ll miss it, undoubtedly, but I’d be 90 and still missing it and my time to move on is now.”
The club will be replaced by a four-storey block of flats to accommodate 46 students.
But at the time of the application being approved by a vote of six to three, council officers raised concerns the development could cause ‘unacceptable harm’ to the area and adjacent listed buildings due to its imposing height.
They also claimed the building would not provide a ‘satisfactory living environment’ for the students who would live there because of bad lighting and window glazing.
But councillors went against officers’ recommendation to refuse the plan.
Cllr Tony Heath (Whitnash Residents’ Association), echoed Cllr Morris’s comments, although he described the whole of Bedford Street as ‘a boil on the backside of the Parade’.
Cllr Heath added: “We’re doing our best to centralise good-standard student accommodation - I see the result of HMOs in Brunswick Street and Tachbrook Road every day.
“If we can’t come up with a condition to improve the glazing I think we’re not doing our job properly.”
“The whole of that street needs upgrading.”
Planning officer Tracy Darke tried to persuade councillors to go with the recommendation.
She said: “We should be expecting significantly higher quality designs to improve Bedford Street.
“Just because Bedford Street is not great at the moment doesn’t mean we should put a ‘not great’ development there.”
Cllr Andrew Day (Con, Bishops Tachbrook) was persuaded by her words and said: “This will set a precedent and we will rue it later.”