News Clos­ing time for busi­nesses

Nuneaton Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE -

TWO Coven­try busi­nesses that have served the com­mu­nity for decades are to close be­cause of a mas­sive Coven­try Univer­sity-led re­de­vel­op­ment in the city cen­tre.

The Deli and City News Food and Wine are two of sev­eral busi­nesses which will be leav­ing their Earl Street homes.

Leigh Maoudis has run The Deli for al­most 13 years, but due to the re­gen­er­a­tion work which will take place around the for­mer Coven­try City Coun­cil Civic Cen­tre site, he has to leave. The shop premises were bought back by Coven­try Univer­sity from Coven­try City Coun­cil in 2015, along with Civic Cen­tre Two, as part of a £125mil­lion deal.

That saw coun­cil staff leave the build­ing and traders say they no­ticed busi­ness slow down as a re­sult. One of the shop own­ers says he is “rather happy” and the univer­sity says it has “come to an agree­ment” with most of the busi­nesses.

Now it is time for the shops to close, af­ter Leigh says he was told last sum­mer he would have to va­cate the premises.

He said: “The univer­sity has been a good land­lord, and our time will be up on May 25. I have been happy with the way they have dealt with me. Essen­tially we have to move be­cause of the re­gen­er­a­tion hap­pen­ing around the shops. The rent isn’t the prob­lem, but the coun­cil mov­ing has made our busi­ness take a mas­sive hit. We have been here since 2005 and had thou­sands of thou­sands of peo­ple walk through those doors – in­clud­ing the coun­cil staff. Now, I have none of them come in, be­cause they have all gone, and my foot­fall has dropped.

“I feel proud of what I’ve done here and the busi­ness I have built up.

“I don’t think I will find some­where else though, af­ter this, and it makes me sad to see ev­ery­thing so empty.

“Even with the amount of stu­dents here, they don’t come in. We used to serve thou­sands of peo­ple ev­ery day back in 2008. I would like to thank all my loyal cus­tomers though who have stuck with me.”

Leigh’s neigh­bour next door, Mo­han Singh, who owns City Food News and Wine, has been in the busi­ness for 21 years and feels happy to close.

Mo­han said: “It has been 21 years this year that I have had this busi­ness.

“I am 60 now and I have had a happy time here. You can’t do any­thing now it is all hap­pen­ing. I have got all I have out of this place, all the love, so I am happy. I am rather happy with the sit­u­a­tion.” Rob Tal­liss, group di­rec­tor of es­tate de­vel­op­ment at Coven­try Univer­sity, said: “We are still in the early stages of the de­sign for the re­de­vel­op­ment of the Civic Cen­tre. “We’ve been in pos­i­tive dis­cus­sions with busi­ness own­ers for some time about how this pro­ject will af­fect their fu­tures and we have come to an agree­ment with the ma­jor­ity of them. “Rents were set by for­mer land­lords and have not been changed since we took own­er­ship of the site. “We will con­tinue to work with those in the com­mu­nity who have an in­ter­est in this pro­ject and look for­ward to shar­ing our plans for the site in the fu­ture.” It was re­ported at the time that the univer­sity planned to de­mol­ish the build­ings with a view to cre­at­ing new ones, in­clud­ing a new head­quar­ters for the univer­sity. The bridge be­tween the Coun­cil House and Civic Cen­tre Two was re­cently re­moved as the univer­sity’s plans gath­ered pace. But the build­ing has now been given Grade II listed sta­tus which pre­vents it be­ing knocked down or mod­i­fied sig­nif­i­cantly with­out spe­cial con­sent.

Pre­vi­ous plans Speak­ing as the deal for the build­ings was signed at the MIPIM prop­erty show in 2015, Coven­try Univer­sity vice chan­cel­lor John Latham said: “This is a ma­jor city cen­tre site, which presents Coven­try City Coun­cil and Coven­try Univer­sity a once-in-a-gen­er­a­tion op­por­tu­nity not only to al­low the univer­sity to ful­fil its po­ten­tial, but also to make a sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment to the city cen­tre.”

He added: “The de­vel­op­ment of Fri­ar­gate and the coun­cil’s de­ci­sion to move to it, will al­low us to add some key new build­ings link­ing to our cur­rent foot­print which in turn will al­low us to make im­prove­ments to the rest of our cam­pus and in­crease our al­ready ex­ten­sive in­te­gra­tion with busi­ness.

“Not only will it al­low us to cre­ate sev­eral new key build­ings, it will, just as im­por­tantly, give us the ca­pac­ity to free up and then de­velop some of our ex­ist­ing sites. We will be able to cre­ate a truly world class head­quar­ters which will give the univer­sity a real fo­cal point for stu­dents, lo­cal peo­ple and vis­i­tors.”

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