THE FUTURE of Warwick District Council’s Riverside House HQ is up for discussion.
Residents will be asked to comment on a new development brief for the Milverton Hill site which has stood near empty for over a year.
A new Leamington Neighbourhood Plan, the climate change emergency and an ambition to enhance public access to the river are all considerations being considered in a new approach to its development.
Planning permission for housing, which was granted in 2018, has now lapsed, and the council says its project team has ‘set a high bar for any future developer’.
Previous plans for the site included up to 170 new homes, with its sale funding the council’s HQ relocation to a purpose-built HQ at Covent Garden, along with a new 620-space multi-storey car park and private housing. They faced fierce opposition due to concerns around disruption, over-development and lack of affordable housing.
Council leader Andrew Day reassured the new plans would be put to residents.
He said: “New thinking, driven by our response to the climate emergency and a recognition that the pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we work, means that this key site can come forward for a changed purpose.
“Riverside House has been virtually empty for more than a year, with the majority of our staff working remotely. The building will not enable us to meet our climate change goals and is an increasing burden on council tax payers.
“The relocation of our office accommodation would be considered separately at a future date and is no longer related or connected with the redevelopment of the Covent Garden car park site.
“We’re keen to create the maximum public benefit possible from this regeneration opportunity. In drawing-up plans for the future of the Riverside House site, we want to ensure that we maintain a strong and cooperative dialogue with all interested parties.
“Should the Cabinet approve the development brief we’ll promptly engage the town council, the Leamington Society, the Chamber of Trade, other local community groups and neighbours. Working together, our ambition is to bring new plans forward by the end of the year, which express a shared vision for this beautiful location.”
The consultation, which would run over summer, is awaiting confirmation by the cabinet at a meeting tomorrow (Thursday).