Council reveals more information about historic finds in Kenilworth – and the challenges they now face
Previously unrecorded remains of at least five buildings associated with Kenilworth Abbey were among the findings unearthed this summer at the swimming pool site at Abbey Fields.
We have been reporting over past few months about the historic findings at the building site of the new leisure development - and while they have been exciting for the town, there have also been worries about the long delays and rising costs they have added to the project.
While addressing those concerns, Warwick District Council has also this week revealed more information on the discoveries.
While the function of the buildings found are still unknown, findings made by Archaeology Warwickshire, including ceramics, pottery, animal bones and rooftiles suggest that the earliest remains may date to the late 13th century, perhaps serving as a kitchen or guesthouse, with a significant amount of metalworking debris indicating that there could have been a smithy nearby.
Since the extensive discoveries were made, Warwick District Council's project team has been working closely with Historic England, who has given its approval to revised plans to raise the level of the planned new swimming pool building so it sits over the historic remains. These new plans will now be submitted for a Section 73 ‘material amendment to planning permission’ on the scheduled ancient monument site.
Warwick District Council’s portfolio holder for safer communities, leisure and environment, Councillor Jim Sinnott said: “We have been working meticulously with our partners to resolve the issues that have been created by the discovery of extensive unrecorded medieval structures.
"The huge scale has involved a complete redesign of the foundations of the new building, so that we can best protect what has been found underneath. This will inevitably take some time and could have big implications on the cost of the project. We are therefore preparing a full report which will be considered by Cabinet and Full Council later this year.”
A few weeks ago, Kenilworth Town Council put forward plans to improve communications between the district council and residents over the Abbey Fields leisure development, saying that residents have not been getting enough information about the ongoing delays to the project.
And with work being halted due to archaeological finds, the campaign group Kenilworth Lido Group has also called for a complete rethink of the development and to bring back the town's outdoor pool.
Cllr Sinnott added: “We know that it is important to keep the public fully informed about progress on this redevelopment and are in discussion with Kenilworth Town Council about holding a public meeting for residents at the earliest opportunity.”
“The council understands the frustration of local people about the delays and current lack of swimming provision but remains committed to providing the town of Kenilworth with a new facility they can be proud of.”