Leamington Clarendon Arcade shopping plans could include leisure facilities

Revamped plans for the Clarendon Arcade shopping centre in Leamington could see restaurants and leisure activities included in the design to “extend the trading hours” of the town centre.

And while the developers said it is “talking to anchor store operators”, doubts have been cast whether a big name will be part of it.

Bowden Wilson will also scale back the size of the centre on parts of it to allay fears that it will tower over homes in Clarendon Avenue.

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There has been a lot of reaction since we revealed last week that plans for the shopping aracade are back on the drawing board - after the £90 million, 21,500 square metre shopping centre on Chandos Street car park was rejected in 2011.

It was on the grounds that it was out of scale with its surroundings and adversely affected those living nearby.

However, an independent retail report commissioned by Warwick District Council, called Strategic Perspectives, said there was a need for a centre the size of Clarendon Arcade to draw shoppers back to Leamington.

It is thought the new scheme will be between 20,000 to 30,000 square metres, of a size similar to the Royal Priors, and will have a link to it and the Parade.

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Consultation is scheduled for the autumn with an exhibition of plans and the scheme could be submitted to planners early next year.

Will Robinson, retail director at Wilson Bowden, said: “We’re talking to anchor store operators and one of the points we are taking from the report is the consideration of leisure provision in the scheme.

“Town centres have changed over the last five or six years and one of the things being seen more and more are the leisure uses like restaurants.

“That is one of the things that extends the trading hours of the town and brings vitality and extra footfall, so that’s one of the things that we are keen to look at.”

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David Ward, planning director at Wilson Bowden, said: “If we want to retain a town centre that has vitality, vibrancy, life and further investment – which is what the Government and the council want to happen – we believe that the opportunity to have something happen in Leamington is immediate.

“We applaud Leamington’s heritage and we believe that this will help to reinforce it because this is about investing in the town centre and protecting the best of the buildings.

“We’re at the stage now that the case for the delivery is now well made once again, and not by us, but by the council and its advisors, and we are now considering trying to put the ingredients together in a way that meets the need.”