TRANSFORMING the fortunes of Leamington’s under pressure town centre is the aim of a new taskforce.
The pandemic has hit the town centre hard – like many across the country – with a number of businesses forced to shut up shop – including most recently the prominent House of Fraser store on the Parade.
The newly formed Royal Leamington Spa Town Centre Transformation Board – made up of eight cross-party councillors from all tiers of local government – aims to breathe new life into the town centre.
It will draw up a Transformation Framework with the aim of co-ordinating new development programmes, projects, funding bids and regeneration schemes.
At the same time an Advisory Group consisting of key town centre organisations and representatives is being formed to provide regular insights and inputs to the board from their areas of expertise including business and commerce, property development, transport, education, arts, heritage, charities and not-for-profit and the environment.
Warwick District Council leader Andrew Day said: “Royal Leamington Spa has an illustrious history, making the most of opportunities born out of the challenges created by change.
“Today once again, our beautiful town needs to evolve thanks to the pandemic and a revolution in our shopping preferences, which when combined with the benefits of new technologies, offer an exciting moment to renew our town centre.
“Drawing together and putting the Transformation Framework in place, fresh leadership is impatient to apply key skills and decision-making ability to execute a clear plan for the future. “Keen to embrace the needs and aspirations of all sectors of the community, the ambition is to make Leamington a desirable place to meet, recreate and celebrate our vibrant community life.”
Leamington mayor Coun Susan Rasmussen added it was vital action was taken now.
She said: “We have a once-in-a-generation chance to make a significant impact on the future of our town.
“We must respond to global trends in the ways that people live and work in towns and cities. We have long needed a Leamington-focused approach to tackle all the changes that are coming our way and take advantage of the many opportunities that are evident; the Transformation Framework gives us that.”
Coun Wallace Redford, Warwickshire County Council’s planning spokesman, was equally determined to see the town centre revived.
He said: “Warwickshire County Council is pleased to be not only playing an important part in the formation of the Transformation Board, but to also have a pivotal role in bringing forward and delivering key development and regeneration projects, helping to secure a bright new future for Royal Leamington Spa and its communities.”
The Royal Leamington Spa Transformation Board is seeking to appoint an independent chair to ensure the board meets the highest standards of output and excellence in governance and scrutiny.
The chair will be appointed by Warwick District Council with agreement from other board members.