City plans to trans­form shop­ping precinct

Hinckley Times - - NEWS -

COVEN­TRY is set to say good­bye to an unloved land­mark with the con­fir­ma­tion that the Up­per Precinct es­ca­la­tor is to be re­moved.

It’s all part of plans to trans­form the shop­ping cen­tre which have been given the green light by city coun­cil plan­ners.

The scheme will also see the cre­ation of 75 stu­dent flats.

Other changes in­clude a new en­trance into West Orchards, shop front im­prove­ments and the re­fur­bish­ment of the empty BHS build­ing.

The brick ramp from Broadgate to the up­per lev­els will also be re­moved.

The scheme was sub­mit­ted by Shearer Prop­erty Group (SPG), the de­vel­op­ers be­hind the trans­for­ma­tion of Cathe­dral Lanes Shop­ping Cen­tre, and JP Mor­gan (JPM) As­set Man­age­ment, who bought the Up­per Precinct last year.

The ap­proval fol­lows a con­sul­ta­tion ex­er­cise that took place in Oc­to­ber this year.

A joint state­ment de­scribed the pro­pos­als as “a to­tal trans­for­ma­tion of the city’s prime shop­ping en­vi­ron­ment”.

It added: “The pro­pos­als fol­low the city coun­cil’s pedes­tri­an­i­sa­tion of Broadgate and will in­clude al­ter­ations to the shopfronts, the walk­ways and the re­moval of the es­ca­la­tor to open up the Precinct.

“A new en­trance will be pro­vided into West Orchards Shop­ping Cen­tre and empty up­per floors will be brought back into ac­tive use with the pro­vi­sion of new stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion.”

In De­cem­ber 2016 cam­paign­ers launched a pe­ti­tion to get rid of the 1990s es­ca­la­tor, de­scribed by its de­trac­tors as “stun­ningly in­ept” and look­ing like a “de­railed train”.

SPG and JPM said re­mov­ing the es­ca­la­tor will re-open the view of the cathe­dral spire, while the shop fronts will be mod­ernised “in a man­ner that is sym­pa­thetic to the 1950s ar­chi­tec­ture”.

The joint state­ment added: “The clo­sure of BHS in Au­gust 2016 serves to high­light the dif­fi­cul­ties that some re­tail­ers are fac­ing.

“JPM and SPG pro­pose to re­fur­bish that unit so that it can be suc­cess­fully re-let; and along­side that im­prove the rest of Up­per Precinct.

“Re­tail­ing con­tin­ues to be hit by chal­leng­ing head­winds and an at­trac­tive en­vi­ron­ment is re­quired to give re­tail oc­cu­piers the best op­por­tu­nity to flour­ish.

“With sub­stan­tial in­vest­ment, we aim to en­hance the re­tail of­fer so that the city cen­tre can com­pete with nearby re­tail cen­tres such as Birm­ing­ham and the con­tin­ued rise of on-line shop­ping.

“Much of the space in the up­per storeys of Up­per Precinct are va­cant or are un­der-used.

“JPM and SPG pro­pose to con­vert and ex­tend this space to pro­vide around 75 new stu­dent bed­rooms which will bring new ac­tiv­ity into the city cen­tre.”

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