City plans to transform shopping precinct
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.”