Creative Quarter Masterplan – CDP Interview

Creative Quarter Masterplan – CDP Interview


I’m Brian Harrabin, I’m one of the director’s
of CDP. CDP is short for Complex Development Projects,
and when we talk about the Leamington Creative Quarter, it’s probably a really good name
for the company to be selected as the Warwick District Council development partner to deliver
the scheme. So, just to give you a little bit of background
by way of what’s happened up to now – the local authority advertised well over two years
ago now for a creative partner, and after a pretty lengthy interview and process we
were eventually appointed about this time last year. Since then, we have been having very extensive
consultations with various groups of interested parties, various stakeholders, to try and
shape what is now the draft masterplan. CDP is headed by my brother Ian Harrabin;
Ian and I are the co-directors of CDP and shareholders. It’s very much a family company
– daughter Emma who is more on the creative side, Ian and I historically are more from
the property background, but the four key individuals who have been involved in the
scheme so far are Ian and myself, Emma who has been fronting on the creative industries,
and Jo Trusslove who is our Communications & Marketing Manager has been fronting a lot
of the public consultation. So we are a fairly small, tight-knit company,
we obviously have other resources and as part of developing this masterplan, we will then
bring in resources as we already have done with specialist architects who are used to
urban regeneration and everything that it means and the challenges that it brings. We’ve done that in using metropolitan workshops,
who have been drafting this masterplan and put some of the linkages together and in conjunction
with us and the local authority, we’ve been working to create a bit of a vision. The vision at the moment doesn’t seek to define
specific uses for every building; in fact, by and large it doesn’t look to specifically
to define uses for any one building because there are a number of uses for a lot of the
buildings that could be interchangeable, and we’re looking to address the needs of the
area whilst delivering the masterplan. A lot of you may or may not be familiar with
the Far Gosford Street area of Coventry, which had the largest collection of listed and locally
listed buildings in the city. We were selected as Coventry’s regeneration development partner
some years ago now, and it took about 10 years from inception to completion of where we are
now to regenerate that area. That scheme in particular is anchored by FarGo
Village, which is actually run by daughter Emma and her team, and it is a really creative
village – a bit of a, I suppose, poor man’s Camden Market if you like, if you’ve not been
to it but it’s a real eclectic mix. We’ve got 42 individual tenants in there, of which
about 35 are start-up businesses, from micro-breweries that have started out in business to hairdressers,
design makers, artists, web designers – a real mix. It’s a mix that has worked well, some of them
have now expanded the first, second and third times within the area and that’s really helped
in terms of their business growth, and also the footfall and what that in turn generates. As part of that programme we run an events
programme, we have an events team that put on various diverse events at FarGo Village,
from things as diverse as a Chocolate Festival, things like the Vegan Festival, Rum & Reggae
– you know Rum & Reggae for instance can attract 2,500 visitors to the village on a Friday
night, it’s a great time. The really interesting thing is that whilst
it is very close to Coventry University and we always thought the success of the village
would be from the university, the really interesting thing is that it’s been supported very extensively
by the local people, more so in some ways than the students, and that I think has demonstrated
to us that there is a real desire for change and some freshness and a vibrancy about the
offer that we’re bringing. I think some of those attributes that we’ve
had in FarGo Village and the experience that we’ve got we can definitely bring to Leamington.
I’m not saying we should create another FarGo Village in Leamington, but I think some of
the lessons that we’ve learned and some of the events and activities we can bring, and
a greater collaboration between the creatives in general. Finally, how do you get in touch? We’re really
keen to hear from you. There’s a website which is www.leamingtoncreativequarter.co.uk and
on that website you’ll be able to follow the links to comment on the masterplan. I would
encourage you all to do so in a positive way, that doesn’t mean you need to agree with what
we’re saying but please try and make your comments positive and constructive in terms
of informative, and what changes could be made, what improvements do you think we should
be looking at that maybe aren’t covered in the masterplan. Or, hopefully, to endorse what we’ve put in
the masterplan to say, “Yes, you’re definitely going in the right direction”. That would
be a real plus.

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