Council plays down Government intervention in Leamington HQ plan

editorial image

Warwick District Council has played down the significance of its controversial headquarters move plan being put “on hold” pending a possible Government review.

Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western, who is opposed to the plan , announced yesterday (Tuesday) that The Ministry for Homes, Communities and Local Government had written to the council announcing that it is formally placing the development of the Riverside House site and of Covent Garden car park on “indefinite hold”.

Mr Western said the decision had been made in response to the letter sent to the Secretary of State Sajid Javid requesting that he ‘call-in’ - or make judgement of - the council’s planning decisions regarding its proposal.

But the council chief executive Chris Elliott has responded to the announcement saying: “This is not a significant development, and does not represent a change to the “call-in” request already received by the council.

“The Secretary of State’s department received the request to consider a call-in of the planning decisions for the Covent Garden and Riverside House applications.

“They immediately contacted Warwick District Council to advise that no formal planning consent was to be issued until a decision on their call-in request was made.

“The council has agreed to this request and has now received it as a formal Article 31 direction.

“The Secretary of State has yet to decide on the merits of the call-in request he has received.”

The council’s planning committee approved the headquarters move plans in January.

The plans involve the council demolishing its current Riverside House building in Milverton Hill, building a housing estate in its place and moving into a new office building including luxury apartments at a redeveloped and expanded Covent Garden car park site in Leamington town centre.

Mr Western said that his letter to the Secretary “provided thorough analysis and highlighted the widespread and profound concerns over the lack of public scrutiny, the failure to deliver any social or affordable housing, the serious implications of losing the car park on the viability of town centre businesses and the total absence of alternative options to the schemes.”