The decision to reconsider the location for Warwick District Council’s new headquarters has been welcomed by those concerned about the original plan.
Land in front of the Spa Centre in Leamington had been earmarked as the council’s preferred site to build the new offices as part of a move which would lead to houses being built on its current Riverside House headquarters in Milverton Hill.
But last week council leader Cllr Andrew Mobbs put forward a proposal to defer the decision on the location pending further detailed assessment of all potential options which will now include sites outside of Leamington and buildings not already owned by the authority.
Responding to the council’s unanimous vote in favour of the proposal, Marianne Pitts of the Leamington society said: “This is a victory for the public who opposed the plan and wrote to their councillors and press to say so.”
County councillor Matt Western (Lab, Leamington Willes) had written an open letter to the council highlighting the amount of public opposition to the Spa Centre plan, questioning whether the council should consider the possibility of a restructuring of local authorities in the future before moving its headquarters and suggesting the use of existing buildings to accommodate the headquarters.
This week, he said: “Let’s take the opportunity when making the decision to evaluate all the possible sites.
“That is what the public should rightly expect.
“Let’s look at sites not just in Leamington but in Warwick or Kenilworth. It makes sense particularly if other public buildings become available.”
Cllr Mobbs said the chosen site must still be able to demonstrate a minimum of £300,000 revenue savings per annum and be broadly ‘capital cost’ neutral which would mean it would not require a significant contribution from the council’s existing reserves.
He said the move should also enable regeneration to be brought forward in the Old Town area of Leamington.