We’ll see if lessons have been learned
As Warwick District Council used the same “independent” consultant and the same retail study (“refreshed” from 2002), it would have been truly amazing if they had reached any other conclusion. The proposed new retail study is waiting for us to get used to Morrison’s – surely the consultation should have waited until that was completed? And it might have been better to commission a different team.
Among the shops listed as “missing” on the 2013 appraisal (page 35), there are significant errors: Leamington already has a Poundland store on the Parade, a Stead & Simpson in Warwick Street and some on that list are on-line sales only (Books etc., Cotswold, Sole Trader, ...).
We also already have a Vue (ex-Apollo) cinema with six screens – are they likely to open a competitor in the same town? How many cinemas can we support? And come to that, how many coffee shops and restaurants? Debenhams – one of the possible “anchor stores” - is now committed to the Shires. Marks and Spencer’s, if interested in moving to Clarendon Arcade, would leave at least one big hole, probably two, on the Parade and Royal Priors.
The inexorable rise of e-tailing is brushed aside. According to the consultants a “significant quantum of retailing (is needed) to help claw back some of the expenditure that is currently leaking away from Leamington to other competing centres and retail parks”, but the lack and cost of parking in the town centre is not even considered as a contributory factor.
When the new plans are submitted we will see what Wilson Bowden has learnt from the opposition in the town.
Marianne Pitts, Leam Terrace, Leamington