Plans approved to convert three landmark buildings in Leamington into 'edgy and stunning' workspaces for digital businesses

This is part of the council's Creative Quarter proposal to regenerate Old Town

Regeneration plans in Leamington s Old Town, which are part of the new Creative Quarter, have been given the green light.

Warwick District Council’s Planning Committee gave permission for the conversion of three landmark buildings in and around Spencer Yard.

The decision means that work can start later this year to transform the Grade II listed United Reformed Church, the former Nursery and Dole Office into a new workspaces for the digital and creative sectors, while retaining their original features and historic significance to the area.

Pictured at Spencer Yard from left to right Cllr Wallace Redford (WCC transport & planning portfolio holder), Cllr Susan Rasmussen, Cllr John Cooke (WDC place & economy portfolio holder) and Cllr Andrew Day. Photo supplied

The leader of Warwick District Council, Cllr Andrew Day, said: “We can’t wait to get started! The plans for these buildings are both edgy and stunning and will provide a catalyst for the regeneration of the whole area as a home for our thriving creative and digital industries.

"The Old Town area needs major regeneration and the focus on creative industries will help to unlock its cultural and commercial potential.

"This is just the tonic we need as we emerge from the pandemic and something that we can all look forward to.”

The Mayor of Leamington, Cllr Susan Rasmussen added: “Our town is already home to a wide range of successful enterprises and I’m confident that the rejuvenation of Spencer Yard and the further Creative Quarter plans will offer an exciting proposition for even more vibrant and interesting businesses wanting to set up here.”

The main approach to Spencer Yard from Spencer Street.

The Spencer Yard development is the first element of a wide range of regeneration projects that will transform the area to the south of Leamington town centre into a 'thriving hub' for creative industries including gaming, digital and the creative arts.

The plans have been put forward by Complex Development Projects (CDP), who will be working in partnership with Warwick District Council on a ten-year regeneration initiative to boost the growth of the Creative Quarter in Old Town. The Spencer Yard development will be the first project to be delivered under the partnership.

The large neo-classical United Reformed Church with its iconic columned portico is a landmark building on Spencer Street and was designed by local architect John Russell and built in 1838 to house a congregation of 1,200 people.

The building’s original features will be restored with the full internal height retained as an atrium for the new offices.

A computer generated image from within the main courtyard

The basement school room and crypts will be transformed to create individual work pods and studio spaces with a communal reception and social space. A new social space at the rear of the building on the ground floor will open up into the yard.

The adjoining former nursery will be refurbished with an extension over the courtyard to provide more office space with a rooftop terrace overlooking the church.

Katie Burn, Senior Development Executive at CDP, said they are delighted to have consent to start the first phase of development in the Creative Quarter.

“Spencer Yard is already home to a number of creative businesses and we want to add to that to create a vibrant and desirable destination,” she said.

“The scheme has been designed to build upon the national and international importance of the creative and digital industries in Leamington which will also boost the local economy post-Covid. It is a great opportunity to regenerate and breathe new life into the Old Town as well as encourage inward investment.

“This development will not only restore several key buildings in the Old Town particularly the United Reformed Church which has been rapidly deteriorating, but will also create a new gateway into the town and improve the routes and environment from the railway station to the town centre.

“We are continuing to work with our partners at Warwick District Council to develop ideas for the next phase of the Creative Quarter, including a mix of uses such as artist studios and workshop/maker spaces, residential uses and areas for independent retailers to thrive.”