New shopping centre would be a bad idea

I am surprised that there seems to have been so relatively little coverage of the plan to erect a large new shopping centre in Leamington.

Few people seem to realise the extent of this scheme. The whole of the Chandos Street car park, together with the three surrounding streets and the houses and businesses on them are to be swallowed up.

I enjoy shopping. However, with 70 shops already empty in the town, I cannot understand the logic in building a space for 40 more in the current economic climate. Existing shops are likely to move inside the new centre, leaving our streets full of empty retail space and endangering the varied independent shops we have at present in streets such as Regent Street and Park Street.

There also seems to be a total disregard of the Local Plan. This states that any new development must “respect surrounding buildings in terms of scale, height, form and massing”. This building is going to tower over surrounding buildings, taking light and amenity from a large number of residents. People’s homes are to be compulsorily purchased and those who survive will suffer considerable loss of amenity.

The Local Plan defines “amenity” as “the extent to which people are able to enjoy public places and their own dwellings without undue disturbance or intrusion from nearby uses”.

As I see it the only justification for compulsory purchase is that it is in the public interest. However, this is a scheme which has had virtually no support from either local residents or businesses. The consultation process, launched at a time when most people were on holiday, resulted, I believe, in two letters of support and more than 70 strongly objecting.

As a long term resident of Leamington, though not living anywhere near the affected area, I sincerely hope that these plans will not be carried out as I believe that they will have a very negative impact on the appearance of the town as well as its economic activity. - Rachael Lonsdale, address supplied.