There is no doubt that, historically, a “south of the river” stigma has been attached to the Althorpe Street area of Leamington Spa. While some would say this statement is right, there are others who want nothing more than to enjoy the area they live in and residents have made attempts to improve the quality of their local area.
Unfortunately, the area has degenerated, there are low levels of employment and high levels of crime including drugs. The canal side is quiet and not considered a safe place to spend time. Security has been an issue, and this is not, at present, a family friendly area.
Currently the buildings at Althorpe Street are split into units which are being used for garage space and an art studio, but these businesses lack the security needed to ensure the safety of visitors.
With this in mind, Althorpe Street Developments Ltd. have created a mixed-use scheme that will regenerate and add vigilance and security to the area. We are a group of local residents with a strong desire to improve our town - to add value and alleviate certain stress points created by changing times.
We intend to create a higher “people” presence which has the positive effect of making the area safer. Employment on the ground floor of the buildings, which will include office and retail space, will populate a daytime presence while accommodation above will do the same for the evenings and through the night.
The development will ‘activate’ canal life bringing energy and a vibrancy currently lacking in the area. The proposed buildings will add to public space making the development a valuable addition to the Leamington business and social scene. An economic driving force will inevitably bring with it a significant culture change for this part of Leamington. This can only serve to aid aspirations for new and established businesses to the area facilitating a wider regeneration of the canal side area.
The proposals will add value for the local community by opening up a space which is closed off by current elevations - an open public space to bring in the local community to a canal side culture. We are creating a community space available to all local residents with good pedestrian access. The development has been purposely designed with regeneration and employment in mind, this building will not only add economic value but also connect the canal to the street offering a unique proposition not seen anywhere else. We want the site to become an asset to the local community, bringing together business, social structure and culture to the area. We believe the development will enhance and add value to the canal side with a vibrant and energetic mix of people attracted to the area without loss of residential character.
The development will also use its proximity to the canal side as a way of radiating a positive culture through attraction of a diverse group of people into an area of Leamington which is rarely used.
The mixed-use development will also ease the pressure of students in the town. Our desire is to keep residential areas for local residents by providing accommodation for circa 270 people. This is consistent with the proposed new policy on Student Housing that is due to be considered by Warwick District Council on 31st May. This policy acknowledges the benefits that students bring to the town and seeks to encourage the provision of purpose-built accommodation of an appropriate type and quality in sustainable locations thereby encouraging students to move from HMO style accommodation and reducing the pressure on family housing and residential areas.
The design of the building is dynamic - the view will change depending on the time of day, light and weather. It is a reflection of the canal and will bring the canal to the street. Shadows will change, light will change adding fluidity and movement to a static structure. This proposed scheme is lighter than the current buildings. The physical elements of the proposed buildings add value at every step from the street/canal side perspective. All blocks have negative space activated from different perspectives adding to public usability and design aesthetic. In terms of size and scale (massing) the proposed development matches its surroundings - but with a unique and carefully considered design twist.
In conclusion, our desire is to turn an underused, undervalued area of Leamington Spa into a space that will be an important contribution to the local area. Our hope is to lead the way in attracting other developments to a high standard and quality that we would want for our town.
This is how the area looks now.