Fallback plans revealed for House of Fraser building in Leamington

House of Fraser in the Parade, Leamington.
House of Fraser in the Parade, Leamington.

A complex consisting of a gym and small cinema are part of fallback plans put forward in case House of Fraser closes or moves its branch in Leamington.

The plans, prepared on behalf of COREM Investment Management (COREM), is for a change of use of 76-86 the Parade which has been occupied by the department store for several years.

The future of the House of Fraser branch is unclear after its parent company's acquisition by Sports Direct which has agreed a short-term lease deal with the landlord while all parties consider their options.

Corem's report says: "Given this uncertainty, the Landlord is exploring alternative beneficial uses for the Site in the event of HoF’s vacation to maintain its future beneficial use, and to minimise any vacancy that may arise. In turn, this will protect the vitality and viability of Leamington Spa Town Centre.

"Corem has submitted two planning applications for the change of use of the Site to the following mix of uses, alongside external enhancements to the Parade (east) and Bedford Street (west) frontages.

"Progressing two standalone and separate schemes will ensure that the site is capable of responding rapidly to market demand in a prime town centre location, should HoF vacate the building."

The first of these applications, or 'Option A' includes a gym, retail space , financial and professional services and a restaurant or cafe in the building's basement.

The ground floor would include retail, financial and professional services, a restaurant or cafe, an ancillary gym and an office.

The first floor would include retail, financial and professional services and a restaurant or cafe and the second floor would be an office.

'Option B' would include the same on each floor but also a cinema on the ground and first floors.

The report refers to Warwick District Council's Retail and Leisure Study published in July which identifies the closure of 'major national multiples' as a potential future threat to the vitality and viability of the town centre and and the importance of promoting incentives to increase footfall and dwell times.

It states: "It is clear that the demand for retail floor space is for smaller scale retail."

The proposals have already been subject to a pre-application process including discussions with district council officers, a presentation to the council’s development review forum and a pubic exhibition last month.

The report states: "The public exhibition attracted 41 visitors and 27 written consultation responses during the event.

"Feedback received was overwhelmingly positive, with 100 per cent of respondents agreeing that the proposals would ensure the beneficial use of the building and benefit its long-term future."

In June, the Leamington Branch of House of Fraser was due to close under restructuring proposals - putting around 200 employees' jobs at risk.

In August the chain of department stores was bought by Sports Direct and the possibility of stores staying open looked more positive.

In October, it was confirmed that the Leamington branch would remain open for the time being at least but the longer term future of the branch remains unclear at present.