Aubrey Allen owner adds voice to campaign against council’s Leamington HQ plan

Cllr Colin Quinney of Leam Ward and representatives from the local business community with concerned residents outside the Covent Garden car park where the district council hopes to build its new headquarters.
Cllr Colin Quinney of Leam Ward and representatives from the local business community with concerned residents outside the Covent Garden car park where the district council hopes to build its new headquarters.

More businesses have been voicing their opposition against Warwick District Council’s plans to build a new headquarters in Leamington town centre.

Among them is Leamington business owner Russell Allen.

The news comes as another public meeting has been finalised to debate the controversial HQ plans.

Mr Allen, the managing director of butcher Aubrey Allen , has emailed customers and residents urging them to sign the petition to support businesses which have grave concerns about the effect the loss of car parking spaces caused by the project would have on them.

Mr Allen has also echoed the concerns of other objectors to the plans, which involve the Covent Garden Car Park being demolished and replaced with a new car park, modern council offices and luxury apartments and for the authority’s current Riverside House headquarters to be replaced by a large housing estate.

He is worried about an increase of air pollution due to trees being removed, the absence of any affordable housing in the scheme and a lack of transparency in regard to the cost to the town because of the aforementioned loss of parking - and any loss of business rate payments due to shop closures because of this.

In a statement, Mr Allen said: “I love Leamington, I run businesses here. I live here.

“It’s long been a place where people want to live, meet and shop and I have been driven to write to you as I fear all that is under threat and Leamington – the great socially diverse, community town full of interesting independent shops, cafes and restaurants is being side-lined in the interests and benefits of the council who are supposed to serve it.

“Having attended many public meetings and met with council leader Andrew Mobbs over the last year in my role on the board of Bid, I’m convinced that these plans are socially and commercially destructive for our town.”

Campaign group Save Leamington from Warwick District Council has this week focused its efforts on the loss of trees the project and subsequent parking displacement strategy will cause.

It has warned that “the loss of public amenity value could add up to more than £1 million” as well as it “constituting an act of unjustified vandalism”.

The amenity value of a tree is based on its size, health, historical significance and the number of people living in the vicinity who can enjoy it.

At least 63 trees could be lost when the Riverside House site is redeveloped and a further 21 have been earmarked for removal at Victoria Park as part of the parking plan.

Clarendon resident Jonathan Nicholls said: “It seems unbelievable that the council is ready to sacrifice the arboreal heritage of our town, in a designated conservation area and a grade II registered park, simply to satisfy its desire for a new HQ.

“Street trees and woodland views are a feature of our town and deliver a wide range of economic, ecological, social and health benefits.

“It’s especially concerning that so many publicly owned trees are being lost from the town given recent reports of the terrible air quality across the district.”

The public meeting to discuss the plans will take place at the Town Hall next Thursday (October 25) from 7.30pm.

Councillors and council officers have been invited.