THE FUTURE of Bath Place Community Venture (BPCV) remains uncertain.
The community group were hoping to return to the former Victorian school in Leamington’s Old Town where they based themselves for 35 years prior to a devastating fire that left them homeless.
But after the site was put up for sale by Warwickshire County Council and council chiefs voted in favour of awarding it to another scheme – HB Community Solutions – the group has been left to consider where its future lies within the town.
BPCV spokesman Clayton Denwood insisted the group would not be making any hasty moves in the wake of the council’s decision.
Speaking about the decision, he said: “It’s quite sad and more than a bit disheartening as we worked very hard and it’s frustrating to have spent so much time and effort to end up where we started with not a lot of options for a relocation.
“It’s a difficult situation and we need some time to let the reality settle. Things are still a bit raw and we’re absorbing both the ramifications of what the council has decided and the process by which they came to a decision.”
Mr Denwood admitted the group had concerns about the scheme favoured by the council and questioned whether it had followed its own policies relating to financial matters and the voluntary sector, and democratic transparency.
He told The Observer: “The main question is why the council has gone to such great lengths to find a private developer that is anything but local and not supported a local, community-based effort with the backing of local elected representatives, service providers, funders and people?
“Our proposal was based around economic regeneration, supporting vulnerable people and a partnership with mental health and drug and alcohol recovery service providers, which there is a well-evidenced need for in Leamington – especially in Old Town.
“The development proposal chosen by the council is by a private corporation and will be for profit. Does privately delivered assisted-housing need to come at the expense of an all-purpose community centre which has a more multi-faceted approach for the whole community?
“Whether or not that particular option is the best for the site is open for debate but we are not opposed to the provision of assisted housing for people with special needs as Bath Place has worked extensively with people with learning difficulties for years.”
The group’s former site was a hub of activity for more than three decades with a café offering value vegetarian meals, volunteering opportunities, a nursery and mental health services.
Mr Denwood added: “We’d like to thank everyone for their continuing support and we’re sorry that we haven’t won the outcome that we tried so hard to achieve.”