Plans have been put forward to convert the former two-floor unit occupied by Marks and Spencer (M&S) at the Royal Priors Shopping Centre into office space.
The £8 million plans commissioned by LaSalle, which manages the Royal Priors, will include adding an extra floor and a new roof terrace at the 30,000 sq ft unit and the hope is that they could bring up to 400 jobs to the town centre.
The plans have been presented to Warwick District Council’s Committee Design Forum and have been submitted as an application for planning permission.
A spokesperson for LaSalle said: “Through active asset management and the hard work and dedication of the project team we are delighted to progress our strategy for Royal Priors.
"The introduction of unrivalled office accommodation addresses demand, creates employment and helps to deliver a sustainable asset for the future.”
M&S, which was based at Royal Priors from 1987, vacated the premises last November to move to Leamington Shopping Park, and the unit has been unoccupied since.
The plans are aong the first in the country to convert shopping centre retail space into offices and two large companies are currently in advanced talks with letting agents Wareing & Co about moving in.
Bill Wareing, owner of Wareing & Co, said: “It is fantastic that despite the disruption that COVID-19 has caused, companies are still looking to back the town centre office as a viable option.
“With changes to the work-from-home guidance recently announced by the government, more workers are predicted to come back into the office, and many companies simply want more attractive spaces for their staff to work in.
“This transformation of the former Marks & Spencer’s store at the Royal Priors is a great example of that and will bring new jobs in high-skilled occupations into the town centre, which is brilliant news for Leamington’s high street businesses.
“The town centre is attractive for companies to base themselves in, thanks to its excellent transport links, independent high street businesses, cafes, restaurants and its charming setting.
“Consumers’ changing habits and the challenges of the pandemic meant it was difficult to market the unit to a major retailer. But if high streets are to prosper, different thinking is needed.
“We look forward to the plans being submitted and ultimately helping Leamington’s economy recover post-pandemic.”