Ten changes to our city of old and new
PEOPLE often comment that Coventry city centre is a wonderful example of post-war development which should be cherished and protected for all time.
Others comment that the centre is empty, out-of-date and in need of knocking down and starting again. As ever, the truth is somewhere in-between.
As Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration in Coventry, my job is straight forward: Encourage new investment to the city, creating jobs, new business and shops, bringing a vibrancy and new life to the city. It’s harder than it looks!
The retail sector up and down the country is going through seismic change. This has been brought on by the challenge of online retailers, ongoing austerity and uncertainty. This has led to the public’s changing habits. Coventry, like elsewhere, must rise to this challenge or continue to decline leading to certain economic death. I won’t let that happen and neither will my colleagues.
So, what is happening in the city centre? Here’s a top ten although I could include many more and others will have their own favourites!
1. The old Nationwide building has come down, opening the entrance to Hertford Street revealing the long forgotten link to Broadgate. Old and the new.
2. Bringing the escalator down in Upper Precinct and opening up the vista again whilst decluttering and face-lifting the buildings themselves. Old and the new.
3. Bringing down Coventry Point by the market, opening up the area and restoring the sight lines and links to the immediate area including Market Way and Shelton Square. Old and the new.
4. Upgrading Hertford Street as part of wider redevelopment plans in City Centre South bringing a circuit right round this part of the city from Broadgate to the market and beyond. Old and the new.
5. Cathedral Lanes Centre – opening new restaurants, bringing new business and customers to spend and gaze at both the precinct and Broadgate as well as the Cathedrals. Old and the new.
6. Reinvigorating Ironmonger Row, with plans to bring old buildings into new use. Old and the new.
7. The Co-operative on Corporation Street redeveloped, bringing new homes for sale and businesses on the ground floor. Old and the new.
8. The former Coventry Telegraph building becoming a much-needed hotel using original features whilst giving a great experience and stay for visitors. Old and the new.
9. Upgrading the listed Coventry Railway Station in time for City of Culture 2021. Old and the new.
10. Drapers Hall being brought back to life by transferring to Historic Coventry Trust and opening up to the public. Old and the new.
Nothing I or my colleagues are doing is done without thought and without a plan. Anyone can criticise and point to what they would like or don’t like. I would like to think though that people, whether they are in the ‘keep everything as it is’ team or the ‘knock everything down’ party can see that, as ever, this is all about somewhere in between.
Bit like life really. Councillor Jim O’Boyle (Lab) St Michael’s Ward