Ten changes to our city of old and new

Coventry Telegraph - - YOUR VIEWS -

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Oth­ers com­ment that the cen­tre is empty, out-of-date and in need of knock­ing down and start­ing again.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

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