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Demolition To Help Priors Win Back Shoppers

Shops could be demolished to make way for an extension to Leamington’s main shopping centre and help the town reclaim shoppers it has lost to Coventry and Solihull.

The extension to Leamington’s Royal Priors Shopping centre is set to get the go-ahead and see a nearby open area brought into the 1987 development.

Whitehead Court would be knocked down if the plans are approved. The pedestrian square, with some small shops and pedestrian access into Park Street, runs from Warwick Street into the Priors.

The plans ask for demolition of the buildings in Whitehead Court and Westwood House, and keep the shops in Priorsgate, making an extension to the Priors shopping centre.

There would be three new shops trading on two levels, two kiosks, and rooftop car parking. One of the existing shopkeepers has objected to becoming part of an enclosed shopping area. Although six traders could have to move, there have been no other objections to the project.

The names of the new traders have not been revealed, but there has been plenty of speculation as to which big names could be coming to Leamington including the clothing chain Gap. The new shops are intended to bring in bigger names to the town.

There would be a new glazed entrance to shopping mall from Warwick Street, which would incorporate the Priorsgate shops from Waterstones to Wax Lyrical within the Priors.

There would be alterations to the pavement on Warwick Street, which would introduce a ‘pedestrian-friendly’ environment and safer crossing point for entry into the Priors.

Inside the Priors, there would be a refurbishment of the existing centre and moving the escalators, replacing and upgrading ceilings, lighting and balustrades to fit in with the extension.

John Beaumont, planning officer for Warwick District Council, is recommending councillors approve the planning application. He said:

“Recent work by Roger Tym and Partners and James Land LaSalle has shown that Leamington is falling behind its competitors, such as Coventry and Solihull, and needs to reclaim shoppers from its catchment area who, or could be, drawn to other centres.

“The most significant gap is in the provision of large units, which cannot be easily accommodated within the historic fabric of central Leamington.

“Royal Priors offers one of the new opportunities to create the space needed to attract national multiple retailers

“In design terms, the proposals replace 1960s and 1980s development s with a sympathetic contemporary design, respecting the streetscape of the Regency terrace in terms of scale, rhythm and massing.”

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CWN / Politics / Warwick District Council / 01 Sep 00

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