Spectator stands, video screens and a media centre will be installed at Leamington’s Victoria Park when the town hosts the lawn bowls event at next year’s Commonwealth Games.
But talks are to continue between the organisers, residents and Warwick District Council regarding parking arrangements both for those attending the event and for those living close to the venue who will lose their customary parking spaces.
The bowls event will run from July 29 to August 6 next year and around 2,500 spectators are likely to attend prompting the erection of stands alongside each of the four lawns in Archery Road.
Although the event will last for just nine days, extra time will be needed for the installation and decommissioning of the structures when security fencing will surround the competition site. It is expected that the play areas in other parts of Victoria Park will remain open although access from Avenue Road and Archery Road will be limited and the tennis courts will be out of bounds.
At this week’s (Tuesday's) planning meeting of Warwick District Council, local resident David Adams spoke on behalf of the Friends of Victoria Park and local residents. He said: “We welcome Leamington’s hosting of the Commonwealth Games bowls. It is a real coup for the district and we recognise that nine days of international competition will bring some inconvenience to many in Warwick district.
“We ask that the council establish a sensible balance between requirements that are essential to Birmingham 2022’s preparation and management of the Games and the freedom of many hundreds of local people to enjoy their local amenities next summer.”
Cllr Jonathan Nicholls (Lab, Leamington Clarendon) added: “You have heard from David Adams representing neighbours and the Friends of Victoria Park. Neither he, nor I, nor the neighbours want to be presented as the Grinches who stole Christmas or the Games.
“Let us ensure the Commonwealth Games does not leave a legacy of disappointment and dissatisfaction for those who live nearby and for the families and others who enjoy the park.
“I’m sure the organisers want to have certainty as soon as possible but so do the residents and users and the committee has the option to impose reasonable conditions now or defer until more crucial information is known.”
Planning officer Helena Obremski said there was no time to defer the application but that the organisers and the council’s cultural services team would liaise directly with neighbours to agree details.
Cllr James Kennedy (Green, Kenilworth Park Hill) said: “I am concerned that residents who have been very actively engaged in this should also somehow be involved in being informed of the final arrangements which are not something that takes place behind closed doors.”
Committee chairman Cllr Alan Boad (Lib Dem, Leamington Lillington) added: “Can I suggest that we have a note to suggest that it is crucial that ongoing discussions take place between the organisers, the council and the residents?”
This was agreed by councillors who approved the temporary use of part of Victoria Park for the hosting of the event.