Bath Place manager has plans to buy
A LEAMINGTON community centre faced with homelessness if its premises are sold has announced it hopes to raise the money to buy it.
Bath Place Community Venture has appointed a new manager and published a business plan stating its ‘preferred option’ is buying the former library in Avenue Road from its landlord Warwickshire College.
Meanwhile the developer that has been in talks with the college, TAG Exclusive Properties, says it is still interested in buying the Grade II listed building if it is for sale, but does not want to do anything until Bath Place has somewhere to go.
Chris Barrow, who was recently a trustee at Bath Place, has been appointed its new manager, and among the “serious challenges” Bath Place faces he identifies the first as being securing a home.
He admits there was a need to “repair relationships” with the college and local authorities. There are now regular meetings, and Bath Place has a deadline of July 27, depending on what prospective buyer intends to do.
Mr Barrow added: “It was clear Warwickshire College had done Bath Place a huge favour. The message from us is that we clearly appreciate the work they’ve done with us.
“We have no right to be here. We can remain here only at the behest of Warwickshire College, but the building is so fit for our purposes that we’ve almost convinced ourselves that this is the place we should be.”
Mr Barrow described the shortlist of alternatives as “extremely short”, adding “The only real suggestion that’s been made is the town hall and we’re not quite sure whether it will work for us.
Applications for funding have already begun, and possible sources include the Architectural Heritage Fund, the Heritage Lottery Fund or the Charity Bank, or issuing shares through the Co-operative Society.
The plan outlines that mortgage repayments could be made from room rental and event, and Mr Barrow says Bath Place could expand its Veggie Table Cafe, grow more of its own produce and even deliver food.
Further possibilities include teaching skills based around computing and creativity such as photography, filming and computing, as well as the first ‘fab lab’ in the West Midlands offering 3D printing.
Mr Barrow said: “There are huge numbers of disadvantaged people who don’t have any access to studio space. They don’t know how creative they can be until they try.”
He added: “More than anything we’d like the developer to decide it wasn’t going to proceed. We’re pretty confident we can finance it.”
TAG Exclusive Properties, which recently renovated the Royal Terrace in Newbold Terrace, has been in talks with the college over converting the former library and college building for flats.
TAG partner Simon Tate defended the idea of converting the library, paid for by public subscription for flats, but praised Bath Place and its work.
He said: “If it’s saving the building then I think it’s a good thing. It’s a good thing for Leamington, it’s a good thing for the building to have it preserved for the future. Whoever buys it is going to have to invest a lot of money to do that.
“We don’t want to see Bath Place being removed from that building if they haven’t got anywhere else to go.”
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Weather for Leamington
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 4 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 4 C to 11 C
Wind Speed: 24 mph
Wind direction: North west