Plans to build accommodation in Leamington for nearly 200 students thrown out
There was widespread opposition to the plans
Unpopular plans to build accommodation blocks for nearly 200 students on a site just a stone’s throw from Leamington station have been thrown out by Warwick District Council.
The scheme would have seen two five-storey blocks of flats built on land alongside an elevated section of the railway between Lower Avenue, Bath Place and High Street.
But there was widespread opposition to the plans with objections from Royal Leamington Spa Town Council, Leamington Society, Warwickshire County Council’s highways, landscape, ecology and public health departments, Network Rail and the district council’s waste management and environmental health teams.
In addition, a report to Warwick District Council explained that there had been 127 letters of objection from councillors, business owners and members of the public.
London-based developers Investry Ltd had applied for permission to build the flats along with retail units, offices, a restaurant and a gym.
There would have been a total of 182 rooms comprising en-suite cluster flats and studios and the proposal also included 184 secure cycle parking spaces, 22 public cycle spaces, ten e-bike charging stations and two disabled parking spaces.
A redundant railway viaduct and commercial unit would have been demolished and advertising hoardings removed.
The loss of the viaduct and Bath Place Arches - a locally listed heritage asset - along with the impact on the setting of the Grade II Listed All Saints Church were among the points raised by the town council while the Leamington Society said the development would make matters worse in what was an already heavily polluted area.
And among the issues raised in the 127 letters opposing the scheme, a number questioned whether student accommodation should be included in Leamington’s Creative Quarter of which the site forms part.
Comments included: “The types of businesses which the existing arches are suitable for are the same types of businesses the Creative Quarter would benefit from attracting. Removing units suited to creative businesses and replacing with non creative businesses and uses would reduce the overall ‘creativeness’ and interest of the area.”
Another added: “The arches are currently occupied by skilled traders and creative services; this culture should be encouraged not forcibly evicted.”
Warwick District Council planner Lucy Hammond looked at all aspects of the development in her 39-page report before recommending that it be refused.
She explained: “The principle of development, in relation to the provision of new student accommodation, new A1/A3 uses, new employment and new leisure uses and the small loss of the existing employment unit from within the site, is all deemed to be acceptable.
“Notwithstanding the principle of development being acceptable however, there are a number of site specific concerns regarding the scale of the proposed development.”
She said that these were specifically in relation to the heritage impacts of the scheme, the design, the impact on existing neighbouring amenity, environmental health grounds, highway safety, parking, ecology, waste management provision across and the objection from Network Rail. For these reasons she recommended refusal.