A COMMUNITY group described as being part of the ‘DNA of Leamington’ is urging council chiefs to allow them to move back into their spiritual home for the benefit of the community.
The Victorian school Bath Place Community Venture (BPCV) called home for 35 years was gutted by fire in 2009.
The fire-ravaged building was put on the market by owners Warwickshire County Council which is are set to make a decision on its future next Thursday.
But BPCV leaders have made no secret of the fact they want to return.
Group spokesman Clayton Denwood told The Observer: “It’s a no-brainer really. We believe the social value of a rebuilt community resource far outweighs any other option.
“It is the right option in terms of economic viability and means the area would be regenerated, which itself will bring jobs and help promote local growth.
“We are concerned about the potential loss of such an integral part of Leamington’s heritage but most importantly, we feel there’s a high need for our services in the town.
“The old site is the perfect spot to allow us to serve the members of the community – giving opportunities to those that need us most.”
BPCV was a hub of activity providing a café offering value meals, volunteering opportunities, a nursery and mental health services prior to the devastating blaze that made them homeless.
Under the new plans put forward by BPCV, the site would be regenerated creating a large community space, up to ten meeting rooms, an IT suite, a family centre, a café and a creative studio.
The regeneration, which Clayton estimates would cost in the region of £1.2million, would begin immediately with the group
using the ‘cottage section’ to house addiction recovery and mental health services.
He added: “We’re looking at a mixture of loans and grants as well as heritage lottery funding and our bank – the project doesn’t involve any council funding and once up and running, would generate its own source of income.
“We’ve a goal to raise around £100,000 locally and would love to start fund-raising tomorrow but it’s difficult to plan as we really don’t know what’s going to happen.
“For us, moving back is the only option since there are no other sites available to do the work we do. The site has been the focus of an extraordinary amount of community passion and support over the years right back to its inception as a community centre.
“We hope to carry on this tradition for many years to come and deliver the wide range of services for which we are well-known and widely respected.”