Plans for the regeneration of a large part of Coventry city centre as part of a major scheme are being backed with nearly £100 million funding from the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).
The scheme seeks to redevelop 15 acres on the south side of the city centre, including Bull Yard, Shelton Square, Market Way, City Arcade and Hertford Street, proposing new homes, shops, restaurants and a cinema.
Among the highlights of the proposals is The Pavilion, a two-storey food hall, with open dining and independent food concessions.
The plans, which have now been submitted to Coventry planners by the Shearer Property Group, were on Friday welcomed by Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, who said the scheme will be key in helping Coventry bounce back from the impact of COVID-19.
He explained: “Lockdown has hit our city centres hard but City Centre South, and other major schemes already underway in Coventry, can lay the groundwork for the new jobs, homes and commerce we will need to recharge our local economy.”
The Mayor, the former boss of retailer John Lewis, said the City Centre South represented a 21st century rethink, moving away from the reliance on big anchor stores and making city centre living a reality by creating hundreds of new homes on a reclaimed brownfield site.
While the scheme will cater for high-quality retail and leisure, it has also been designed to drive footfall from new city centre residents and attract people in from the suburbs. The scheme will also include co-working premises and community space.
The architectural character of the proposals is notably diverse, with varied roofscapes, expressed corners and a palette of materials envisioned to reflect Coventry’s industrial heritage, making use of copper-esque metal shingle roofs and terracotta bricks.
The scheme has faced some criticism, though, for its impact on heritage sites and exclusion of Coventry Market from its considerations.
In response, the developers have emphasised that special care will be taken in respect of heritage assets to ensure their setting is both respected and enhanced, specifically mentioning Coventry Market, former Woolworths and BHS buildings, the Reform Club and Broadgate House.
Planning documents describe the “significant benefit” the scheme would deliver, with up to 508 full-time jobs supported during the construction period and a further 2,000 after the scheme in complete.
The scheme also aims to diversify the city centre’s offer, by attracting increased footfall, especially into the evening, thus supporting the viability of new kind of business in the city.
Whilst Coventry is ranked as the 11th largest city in the UK, its primary retail catchment is ranked as 30th nationally, so it is hoped the development would increase perceptions of the city and widen the retail catchment.
The Coventry Times are currently working on a comprehensive review of the extensive submitted plans.
You can view the entire plans for yourself by visiting Coventry City Council’s planning portal at planning.coventry.gov.uk.