THE FINAL hope a long-standing Leamington community group had of returning to their former home vanished this week.
Bath Place Community Venture (BPCV) spent 35 years based at the former Victorian school in the heart of Old Town and was a vital hub offering everything from value vegetarian meals to volunteering opportunities, a nursery to mental health services – before a devastating fire left them homeless in 2009.
The gutted building was put on the market by owners Warwickshire County Council in August 2013 and a team of volunteers from BPCV had developed plans to regenerate the building.
But last May council chiefs decided the site should go to HB Villages – a company which provide new-build supported living accommodation for vulnerable adults – leaving BPCV and its supporters devastated.
And following months of no action at the Bath Place site, a joint application has finally been submitted to Warwick District Council to demolish the burnt out shell and neighbouring buildings.
BPCV spokesman Clayton Denwood admitted the group now faced some “pretty hard choices” regarding its future.
He said: “We are in a pretty difficult situation largely beyond our control but given the county council’s decision, there is only so much we can do.
“We still believe our plan provided the best option and history I think, will bear the ultimate witness to the real loss of the site to the public and future generations.”
New owners HB Villages now plan to create 16 supported living apartments for vulnerable adults with physical and learning disabilities.
Designed to give people the opportunity to live as independently as possible, the apartments will have 24 hour on-site support as and when needed.
Alastair Sheehan, development director at HB Villages, said he was excited to be part of the site’s regeneration.
He told The Observer: “The development will provide much-needed homes for vulnerable adults in the area – enabling them to live in the manner and dignity they deserve.
“Adults with physical and learning disabilities are often housed in unsuitable accommodation but these homes will provide a safe environment and give them the freedom to manage their budgets and lifestyle with support where needed.”
HB Villages will be holding a public consultation drop-in event where residents and councillors can discuss the scheme and provide feedback in the coming months.
Mr Sheehan added: “Bath Place and Leamington is an ideal location as it’s a place with a caring community where residents will not be victimised and taken advantage of by less kindly members of society.
“We have already been sharing our designs and ideas with the Leamington Spa Heritage Forum and will ensure all construction is in keeping with the beautiful heritage style in the area.
“The new homes planned for Bath Place will be a real asset for the local community.”