Fresh approach to future of ageing multi-storey car park in Leamington

Warwick District Council has said that options to create new car and cycle parks, plus one-stop access to health and community services “will be carefully considered” for the Covent Garden multi-storey car park in Russell Street.

The  Covent Garden multi-storey car park in Leamington.
The Covent Garden multi-storey car park in Leamington.

A “fresh approach” is being considered for the future of an ageing car park in Leamington town centre.

A structural survey of the Covent Garden multi-storey car park in Russell Street and wider recommendations for the future of the area were considered by Warwick District Council’s (WDC) cabinet at a meeting last week.

Councillors resolved to create new proposals for the regeneration of “the important part of town”, recognising that the current car park is fast reaching the end of its useable life.

Support, in principle, was given to not only replacing the public car park, but generating wider public benefits, including working with partners to create a community wellbeing hub.

Councillor Andrew Day, leader of WDC, said: “We’re determined to renew and repurpose this important area in our beautiful town.

"The upper decks of the old car park have been closed for some time and we’ve resolved not to waste public money patching-up a building that is no longer fit for purpose.

"Working with the Leamington Transformation Board, we’re keen to invest in Covent Garden for the area to be more attractive, supporting our town centre and offering good reasons for us all to visit.

“Regenerating the Covent Garden site offers an opportunity to bring both public services and key community facilities together in one location.

"Options to create new car and cycle parks, plus one-stop access to health and community services will be carefully considered to ensure that enduring benefits are generated for our residents and local businesses.”

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To enable proposals be properly considered, the councillors agreed to commission a detailed feasibility study for the community hub – which would bringing together amenities such as a GP surgery and other connected health services, as well as a citizens’ advice centre and post office.

This would also address the future of the Covent Garden multi-storey car park site with a public consultation taking place.

In the meantime, the Covent Garden car park will remain open for business, with no decision or major changes to be made until summer 2023 at the earliest.

In September 2020, WDC confirmed it had shelved controversial plans, which involved knocking down its Riverside House headquarters and building hundreds of new houses on the Milverton Hill site and then building a new office, apartments and multi-storey car-park on the site of Covent Garden.

At the time, the authority said it would "take a second look" at how much office space it needed in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western had supported the campaign against the plans proceeding, which involved residents and business owners in the town centre.

Mr Western said the project would have been “costly and unnecessary” and also raised concerns about the “millions [of pounds] of public money” which, he said, “had been wasted and sunk into the plans”.