Bath Place prepares to move out - but will the building simply be boarded up again?
TIME has run out for a Leamington charity in its present incarnation, but managers at Bath Place Community Venture believe it can rise again.
Even as staff at the venture’s headquarters in the old library in York Road were packing boxes this week, manager Chris Barrow was searching for new premises - and he hopes a scheme working with Warwick District Council to find uses for empty shops in Old Town may yield results.
Bath Place staff were instrumental in the success of Old Town’s bid for £100,000 Portas Pilot regeneration money. The irony of helping find uses for empty shops while Bath Place was effectively homeless was not lost on Mr Barrow.
He said: “We sit down with the council to look at issues to do with empty shops and here we are faced with big empty buildings.”
The building’s owner Warwickshire College is allowing the venture to use the building for storage, even though Bath Place will hand back the keys today (Friday).
The college hopes to sell the old library and college to raise money to improve its site, but English Heritage has objected to developer Tag Exclusive Properties’ plans to turn the listed Victorian library into luxury flats.
Inspector Nicholas Molyneux described the plans as “intrusive”, adding that TAG had not justified the degree of change to the fabric of the building.
Mr Barrow does not believe councillors would readily defy English Heritage recommendations, but questioned what would happen in the long term if the application stalled.
He said: “Are they going to board it up again? Is it going to rot over the winter? Are we going to have a grade II listed building boarded up, a burnt out school and a boarded up church all standing empty?”
One possible move to Warwickshire Association of Youth Clubs’ Westbury Centre is on hold, with a relocation to the district council’s creative arches in Court Street also unlikely.
Site supervisor Clayton Denwood was due to present a petition to Leamington town council yesterday evening (Thursday). He hopes the town council has a major role to play in helping Bath Place.
Mr Denwood described the mood among staff and volunteers as “terrible”, with many vulnerable clients in need of stability.
Since its move to the library, the venture had been based around hiring out space at the former library. Mr Denwood described the venture’s cafe, started at original headquarters, as “non negotiable”, with its IT suite also central.
He added: “Ultimately Bath Place is all about people but in order to operate it has to have a building.”
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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