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27th Jun, 2022

Leamington eco charity fears for future after flats plans given green-light

AN ECO-FRIENDLY charity in Leamington fears for its future after planning permission was granted for new flats.

Warwick District Council (WDC) has given the green light to plans which are set to see up to 90 bed spaces created as part of two purpose-built accommodation blocks on Court Street.

The blocks would be built over the current site of Action 21’s shop, which recycles second-hand goods including bicycles, as well as several other long-standing businesses and would require them to find alternative locations.

The charity’s chair of trustees Belinda Pyke fears it would be difficult to find a new home if it loses the site in Court Street.

She said: “We were just getting back on our feet after Covid, but we’re now left in a very uncertain situation about our premises – and we know it won’t be easy to find another of the size we require.

“We’re recognised now as a partner on climate change by local councils – and we were a representative on the Citizens’ Inquiry Oversight Panel on the climate emergency last year.

“We’re an environmental charity aiming to stop waste going to landfill instead getting people to re-use and recycle – and we do a good job!

“It’s also very concerning for our 50 volunteers and our three full-time staff members.”

She added the proposal along with other plans to build student flats on Althorpe Street would also ‘wipe out’ smaller businesses and damage the area.

Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western has also slammed the plans which do not include any affordable housing, which he said went against WDC’s own housing policy and national planning requirements. The council’s own policy requires two fifths of homes in large developments to be affordable.

Mr Western fears the flats could be used to accommodate students and not local people.

Plans in 2016 for housing on the same site were eventually shelved, despite 40 per cent of the proposed homes being affordable.

Mr Western said: “Several years ago, the community was promised a development including affordable housing which is desperately needed across Leamington.

“We have a serious housing crisis and more so in our community where the wrong housing is being built in the wrong places.”

A WDC spokesperson said; “A Viability Appraisal was submitted to the council which was rigorously interrogated by the council’s independent Viability Consultant.

“It was concluded that the development would not be viable with a requirement for affordable housing. Whilst the loss of affordable housing is unfortunate, in accordance with national planning guidance, officers had no alternative but to recommend approval.

 

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