Heritage walks Thurs. 13th, Sat. 16th Sept

As part of this year’s Heritage Open weekend there are two escorted walks:

Thursday 13th September – 2pm  Pump Room Garden and Jephson Gardens walk.

Meet outside Leamington Spa Art Gallery, Library and Museum.

The Pump Room Gardens and Jephson Gardens are very special places in Leamington. Come and learn about the Pump Room Gardens project now underway.  Then take a tour of Jephson Gardens learning about its history and identifying some of its interesting trees.

The walk will last about 1 hour and is suitable for mobility scooters.  The walk will be followed by refreshments in the North Lodge.

Sunday 16th September – 2.30pm: Leamington Spa’s History in buildings and Characters.

Meet by the Jephson Garden gates opposite the Pump Rooms.
A guided walk around the historic centre of Leamington noting the buildings of importance, with stories of those who contributed to Leamington’s growth and charm.
Approximately 90 minutes in length. Suitable for mobility scooters.  The walk will be followed by refreshments in the North Lodge.

 

Portobello Fields regeneration

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Looking across the Fields to the development on the old Potterton site
Work is now taking place on the old Potterton Fields beside the River Avon. Prior to the land coming into District Council ownership the developer is doing the required landscaping work: regenerating the hedgerow, coppicing trees for further growth and retaining specimen trees.

More than 70 trees will be planted throughout the scheme to compensate for trees to be felled. All trees felled will be retained on the scheme to provide a natural habitat for wildlife, the developers are working alongside Warwick District Council Green Space Projects Team on key stages throughout the project.

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Towards the south east, holes for trees just visible

Maybe the last carnival?

Carnival floats from local organisations and accompanying  participants marched on Saturday from the Campion Hills through Leamington along the Parade to end at Dormer Place. Along with the floats and band, there were stalls and live music in the Pump Room Gardens, hosted by the Leamington radio station Fresh Coventry and Warwickshire.  Sadly, despite the enthusiasm of those watching, the organisers say that the lack of business support means that this might be the last Leamington Carnival. They regret that although the event raises considerable sums of money for local charities and attracts visitors to the town centre, the high running costs mean that next year it might not be possible to continue the tradition .

Pictures following show the variety of organisations involved and the happy participants.

Marks and Spencer Foodhall Planning Appeal

An appeal has been lodged against the refusal of Planning Permission in December 2017 for the development of a Marks and Spencer Foodhall in the Leamington Shopping Park. Along with the Foodhall it was proposed to build two smaller non-food outlets.When the proposal was first made public in 2017, there were strong objections to the plans though also considerable support. Permission was refused on several grounds, including the possible impact of the development on the town centres of Warwick and Leamington and  the additional traffic which would be created. Among the objectors were the Highways Authority, Warwick District Council and BID Leamington. In its detailed objections BID stated that there were enough units standing empty in Leamington Town Centre which would be suitable locations for the non-food activities and that the development would draw footfall away from the town centre, diminishing its attraction to visitors. BID also argued that to approve the proposal would be inconsistent with the Town Centre First policy in the Local Plan which emphasises the necessity of strengthening the appeal of local centres.

Anyone who would like to read more should go to the WDC planning portal: application number W/17/1470.

Leamington Society Awards 12th July

Don’t forget to come along on Thursday at 7.15 for 7.30 to the Leamington Society Awards evening, to be held this year in the elegant surroundings of Victoria House, Willes Road.

Awards will be presented to the winners in the various categories who are judged to have made the most significant improvements to the streetscape of Leamington Spa in the last two years. The Mayor Cllr  Heather Calver will make the presentations.

This is always a very interesting and encouraging event, so well worth attending.  Refreshments will be provided. Chiltern Railways will again be the sponsors of the Awards.

If you would like to learn more about the event or about previous years’ winners, go to the Awards section here..

Canal festival returns to Clemens St

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 The Leamington Spa Canal Festival came back to the Grand Union Canal over the weekend of 23rd/24th June, attracting a large number of visitors. Clemens Street was closed to traffic on the Sunday, making way for a band, stalls and children’s entertainment. On the canal itself, trader boats decorated with flags and bunting were lined up,  as well as a heritage boat showing what life on the canal would really have been like when canal barges brought raw materials to Leamington and the West Midlands.  The trader boats offered a variety of products, many created by the boat owners themselves. Towpath Tipples run by Martin Lloyd on the boat Angelwood was understandably popular, offering craft ciders, perry and fruit wines .  At Crafts from Morgana  Lesley Jones showed a range of crafts, all made on board her boat  Morgana le Fey. In the Inter-school Boat Building competition, prizes were won by children from Shrublands and Sydenham schools. Procaffeinate organised a hog roast for participants on the Saturday evening.

 

The hard work carried out to prepare for the Festival could be seen in the extensive planting along the towpath at the bottom of the steps from the Clemens Street bridge, done by the Grand Union Gardeners, all volunteers. The frontage of Alumno had also been cleared and planted. Employees from Vitsoe helped with the preparatory tidying up. The Festival was organised  by the Leamington Old Town Team (LOTT).Support was provided by the Warwick District Council Small Grant Scheme.  More information on the Festival can be had from the Lott Bazaar, Clemens Street, and on canal boat traders from the Roving Canal Traders Association www.rcta.org.uk.

 

Covent Garden development update

At a well-attended meeting about the Covent Garden development in the Spa Centre last week, Stephanie Kerr of Bid Leamington concluded by asking for a commitment from the council officers present to hold another similar meeting in 3 months.. It would then be the appropriate time to review the plans and decide on improvements if necessary.

Retailers, businesses and residents made clear their dissatisfaction with the plans for displacement parking after the work has started.  There was also serious disquiet about the detrimental effect of the ongoing work on this area of the town. Dust, disturbance and noise could not be avoided for a significant period of time. The request for a further meeting was supported by our local MP, Matt Western.

Throughout the meeting Bill Hunt of WDC insisted that all options for alternatives to the Covent Garden development had been explored but for various reasons rejected. However he did emphasise that discussions are still ongoing about how to handle the resulting problems:  all parties involved were still talking and aware of the importance of the issues. Despite this a significant proportion of the audience was still very concerned about the proposals.