BID ballot strongly endorses renewal

Readers will be delighted to hear that the recent ballot for the five year extension of the BID Leamington’s activities produced an outstanding result: 79% of the votes, which equals 85% of the rateable value were in favour.

This is a splendid endorsement of Stephanie Kerr’s diligence and charm over the years, for which all who know her are grateful!

More details through this link  bid_renewal_ballot_2018_-_declaration_of_result

 Car Parking in the Town Centre: facts, figures and possibilities

 Marianne Pitts writes;

Covent Garden carpark needs to be replaced as it has “concrete cancer” and two floors are already out of action. Even so, the revenue gained by WDC is some £ ¾ million a year and its 456 spaces are fully used by an average of 800 drivers per day, 65% by shoppers (short term parking) and 35% by workers (long term parking). While being redeveloped these 456 spaces need replacement in the town centre (defined as within 400 yards of Royal Priors).

Various alternatives have been considered, none of which fulfil the need – but the two most obvious have not.

The first obvious solution is to build a new multi-storey on the Covent Garden surface car park parallel to the failing one – before demolishing it. This would lose only 81 spaces. The cleared multi-storey car-park site could then accommodate offices and housing along Tavistock Street, including the WDC new HQ.

The second obvious solution would be to build additional levels onto Chandos Street carpark, which is the most popular in town. This would need expensive reinforcement of the foundations and be expensive – but would yield good revenues while it is in use, and would pay for itself in less than a decade. Only one estimate has been submitted for this so far – not enough for an informed decision. WDC have entertained alternative plans for Chandos Street for some years and are reluctant even to consider this alternative properly. There may also be other sites in the town centre for a substitute and / or extra multi-storey carpark, to be built before Covent Garden is demolished – Bedford Street / Augusta Place / others?

WDC is determined to connect the Covent Garden car-park problem with another: rehousing its offices at Riverside House. The idea is to sell that valuable site for housing and build and sell 44 flats plus offices on the Covent Garden site, using the money to pay for their new HQ. Claims have frequently been made that the whole plan is cost neutral, but it is not: rebuilding Covent Garden carpark needs an extra £8.5 Million. It is therefore not dependent on the Riverside site sale and could be started at once.

There are also unintended and unconsidered consequences to the policy of redeveloping Riverside Road for residential use. This will remove the 270 existing parking spaces for WDC staff and visitors which are always full. The new development proposes that 57 spaces be set aside for WDC staff, so where will the rest of the 350 staff park once WDC is in the town centre? They will not all use public transport, walk or cycle to town. What proportion is expected to work from home? Half? A quarter? WDC officers currently enjoy free parking and will not be pleased to pay.

The town is already short of parking, and Covent Garden is 31% of the town’s supply. Comparable towns such as Winchester, Royal Tunbridge Wells and Canterbury have two to three times the number of off-street parking spaces in their town centres. Visitors, shoppers and workers will not consider Leamington Spa if they cannot park easily and reasonably cheaply.

Most of the data in this article relies on information collated by BID Leamington over two years, based on daily and monthly ticket sales data supplied by WDC for every town centre car-park and on-street parking; the “churn” of parking places; the number of disabled parking; of season tickets; and includes consultation with the town’s businesses on the issue.

16th April: Share your views on WDC’s Covent Garden plans

Local MP Matt Western has convened a meeting about Warwick District Council’s  proposals for its Riverside House HQ and the Covent Garden car park. Residents and businesses are very concerned about the loss of town centre car parking space, as well as the Council’s disregard of its own policy requiring that all new developments include 40% affordable housing. The meeting on Monday 16thApril in Leamington Town Hall will allow those concerned to express their opinions. The Council Leader and Chief Executive have been invited to take part.

The meeting will commence at 8pm but those wishing to attend are advised to arrive by 7.30pm.

Spring Craft Fair; North Hall, Spencers Yard, Sunday 25th March from 1-5 pm. 

As well as stalls selling a wide variety of handmade items produced by our local creative community, there will be a Children’s Easter Bonnet decorating workshop, costing just £2.50 for bonnet and decorating materials. The Fair is organised by LOTT, the Leamington Old Town Team, and supported by South Leamington Community Forum.  LOTT is carrying on with the support for the regeneration of Old Town, which was begun after Mary Portas grant  in 2012. The last of this money was spent in 2016.

Read moreSpring Craft Fair; North Hall, Spencers Yard, Sunday 25th March from 1-5 pm. 

Future of Newbold Comyn

Marianne Pitts writes; There is no question that Newbold Comyn is one of Leamington’s most valuable and treasured resources. Situated at the Eastern end of the unique series of linked parks including Victoria Park, Pump Room Gardens and Jephson Gardens, the Comyn is much used for both formal and informal recreation as well as serving as a valuable wildlife resource. The departure of Mack Golf, Managers of Newbold Comyn Golf Course, raises financial implications for the Comyn’s future in that the Golf Course represents a considerable investment dependent upon income generation. The fact that Mack Golf have relinquished their tenancy despite a long lease indicates that golf might not be the commercial earner that it once was – at least at Newbold Comyn.
What then are the implications of Mack Golf’s departure on the Comyn now that the course is no longer generating income? Does this leave Warwick District Council (WDC) with a financial problem and if so, how might this impinge on the resource as a whole? The Leamington Society would like to facilitate a public debate to consider the implications of the current situation, identify problems and give consideration to the best way in which this valuable resource can be preserved for future generations. We would be keen to hear from any other organisations that would like to be involved in organising such a debate.

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Praise for the Town Centre Vision and Strategy

At the Warwick District Council Executive Committee meeting on Wednesday March 7th, councillors responded to the document produced by the Town Centre Forum on a Vision and Strategy for Leamington town centre. The Forum, comprising of various businesses and organisations with an interest in the town centre, worked for around 18 months gathering a wide range of material . The resulting document makes recommendations which members of the Forum hope will help to maintain the attractiveness and vitality of the town centre for many years to come.

Councillors praised the document as a good piece of work by all concerned. The Leamington Society was one of the organisations taking part in the Forum, so we on the committee would like to thank our members and all the residents of Leamington who contributed to the success of this initiative, whether by taking part in discussion groups or answering questionnaires, at the Food and Drink Fair, online or during one of our meetings. All responses were considered and used to compile the findings and recommendations of the final document.

 

March 7th. Newbold Comyn Golf Course update

Members of the Warwick District Council  Executive Committee, meeting on Wednesday 7th March,  approved a proposal for the maintenance of the Newbold Comyn Golf Course site, while a report is compiled into the options for the area, now that Mack Golf are no  longer in charge. It is planned  for low-level maintenance to be carried out by a District Council team, so as to keep the site in good order until a decision is made. This does not mean that further use as a Golf Course is being ruled out. However Councillors are hoping to find ways of opening the site for the use and enjoyment of a larger proportion of Leamington residents than the relatively small number of golfers who used to play there.  During the discussion the value of the area to Leamington was emphasised, both as a location for outdoor recreation for all ages and an important part of the green belt. Councillors made it clear that there was no question of the land being used for housing developments.