Arcade not needed or wanted on any scale

You quote WDC deputy chief executive Bill Hunt and Will Robinson, development director of Wilson Bowden, insisting that the proposed Clarendon Arcade is vital for Leamington town centre (Courier last week). Councillor Hammon endorses this view.

What kind of parallel Leamington are they living in?

All the arguments they now use were previously advanced by the same developer Wilson Bowden and their backers when they made massive profits from the development of the Regent Hotel site. We were told then that a “flagship store” would come and secure retail prosperity for the town. It didn’t happen.

The reality is that The Regent is now a downmarket budget hotel. A series of failed restaurants have occupied the ground floor and it is to be hoped that the latest, Wagamama, lasts longer than its predecessors.

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The key retail aspect of the Wilson Bowden’s development was Regent Court, or Windy Alley as local people call it, linking the Parade and Regent Street,and there are currently six big empty retail units in that street and it is known that other businesses there are struggling to survive. The same applies to Denbigh Buildings and Regent Grove. Presumably the flats above are all fully occupied.

In the town centre as a whole, Regent Street, Warwick Street, the Parade and side streets like Park Street all have empty shops and many others are on short term lets to charity shops, community art projects and the like. The town’s first “shopping mall” development by Midland Oak on the old Debenhams site in the Lower Parade, formerly Lee Longlands, is being remodelled as Leamington’s second budget hotel after being mothballed for years.

The Royal Priors itself is significantly under-occupied and so there is plenty of capacity to accommodate new retail businesses already in the town. To build the massive Clarendon Arcade would blight existing traders. It is not needed and not wanted on any scale.

For local councillors and council planners to appear to have more loyalty to an outside developer like Wilson Bowden rather than to the residents of Leamington who elect them is extraordinary.

Enough is enough and I hope elected members show the courage to speak out and end this unwarranted threat to Leamington town centre for good. - Robin Brabban, Warwick New Road, Leamington.