MP joins calls to keep town’s old library in community use
LEAMINGTON’S MP has stepped into the debate over the future of the town’s old library and Bath Place Community Venture, the group based there until it was forced to move out.
Warwick and Leamington MP Chris White has formally objected to plans to convert the Victorian library and college into luxury flats.
Warwickshire College is selling the building to pay for refurbishment of its main site, and Warwick District Council’s planning committee will debate developer Tag Exclusive Properties’ application to divide it into 28 flats on Tuesday.
In objecting, Mr White joins more than 300 people who have written in and almost 1,700 who have signed a petition.
Bath Place moved out in September but has not yet found a permanent home. Mr White warned the building’s loss could lead to a “significant” impact on the wellbeing of its users and cited Government planning guidelines saying community buildings should not be lost until an equivalent could be found.
In his letter he wrote: “The old library has the potential for a wide variety of uses for and by the community; the building is centrally located, has been used by the community for more than 100 years, has a strong local connection and is a part of the shared history of the Leamington community.
“I believe the old library could create an opportunity for innovative community groups to base themselves there and could be deployed by a range of purposes which could generate income for community uses and projects.”
Mr White helped paint rooms in the former library after fire forced Bath Place out of its original headquarters in 2009. He told the Courier Bath Place was “part of Leamington’s DNA”, adding: “In my ideal world I would like Bath Place to continue in that building.
“Sometimes there should be an option to reflect and review, and make sure every option has been considered. As an MP I want to consider I’ve done everything in my power.”
His views were echoed by English Heritage. Although the conservation organisation says new plans are better than the “intrusive” original designs, it still says a public function would be preferable.
Bath Place is currently operating from temporary offices at the Band Factory in Althorpe Street. Chairman of trustees David Williams said it was applying for grants and its board would meet on November 7 to discuss operating from several premises - among them an empty shop in Clemens Street and shipping containers on its original Bath Place site.
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Weather for Leamington
Sunday 26 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 18 C
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Wind direction: West
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