Coven­try as you’ve never seen it be­fore

Warwickshire Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - Si­mon Gil­bert Chief Re­porter si­mon. gil­bert@ coven­try­tele­graph. net

AN AM­BI­TIOUS plan to trans­form the city cen­tre by build­ing Vic­to­ri­anstyle lux­ury homes has been pro­duced by a Coven­try de­signer.

Alan Denyer, of AWD Restora­tions, be­lieves his idea would be a vi­able al­ter­na­tive to the cur­rent trend of fill­ing up derelict pieces of land with large blocks of stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion.

The Earls­don- based de­vel­oper has pro­duced artists’ im­pres­sions which show the spec­tac­u­lar trans­for­ma­tion when Vic­to­rian build­ings are in­tro­duced.

He wants Coven­try coun­cil to back his plans to pro­duce the high qual­ity apart­ments in ar­eas such as Salt Lane, Bish­ops Street and Well Street.

Mr Denyer, who is also a mem­ber of Coven­try So­ci­ety, said: “I want to help the city get over its con­crete han­gover from the 1950s and 1960s.

“I have al­ways had an am­bi­tion to help Coven­try city cen­tre turn it­self around. I have looked at the pos­si­bil­i­ties of what it would take to change it quite dra­mat­i­cally.

“I’m not a big de­vel­oper, but I’m pas­sion­ate about ar­chi­tec­ture and the power of it to trans­form streetscapes and bring in qual­ity foot­fall.”

Mr Denyer, who re­cently re­fur­bished two build­ings in Daven­port Road, said he wanted to work with the coun­cil to pro­duce a pi­lot scheme in a mu­tu­ally agreed area.

He said he would foot the bill for devel­op­ment in ex­change for the coun­cil hand­ing over the lease­hold and that prof­its would then be shared be­tween his firm and the coun­cil - some­thing which he be­lieves would pro­vide a bet­ter long- term ben­e­fit to the tax­payer than sell­ing off lease­holds to stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion de­vel­op­ers.

He agreed there was a need for stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion, and he was sup­port­ive of the on­go­ing de­vel­op­ments, but he be­lieved a suc­cess­ful city cen­tre re­quired a mix­ture of de­vel­op­ments.

He said: “I think stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion is only

part of the big pic­ture Coven­try needs to re­gen­er­ate it­self.

“I un­der­stand the need for coun­cils to get a re­turn on their as­sets, but through a joint ven­ture deal they could see a greater re­turn in 18 to 24 months than through a deal with a stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion de­vel­oper.

“If you can es­tab­lish a suc­cess­ful up- mar­ket or pres­tige devel­op­ment pi­lot scheme then other de­vel­op­ers will be more in­clined to look at that rather than the stu­dent­type de­vel­op­ments we have seen so far.”

Mr Denyer did ac­cept there are risks to his pro­pos­als, but in­sists they were worth tak­ing.

He said: “If you are pro­vid­ing res­i­den­tial homes for £ 200,000 to £ 300,000 that’s a big leap of faith to ex­pect some­one to pay that when there hasn’t re­ally been any­one liv­ing in the city cen­tre for the past 75 years.

“But there are some big em­ploy­ers in Coven­try and this is an op­por­tu­nity to drive more peo­ple with cash into ac­com­mo­da­tion within ten min­utes of the city cen­tre.

“The style would be ap­pro­pri­ate, there are al­ready sim­i­lar look­ing build­ings in The Quad­rant and his­tor­i­cally there were quite a num­ber of Vic­to­rian- style build­ings like this in the city cen­tre.

“Hav­ing some­thing like this would pro­vide a bal­ance to the newer build­ings in the city cen­tre.”

He added: “Imag­ine Salt Lane and the Bish­ops Gate area lined with trees, paving and Vic­to­rian and Ge­or­gian- style build­ings all the way to Lady Her­bert’s Gar­den. That’s the type of ar­chi­tec­ture that would make peo­ple think again about Coven­try.

“I think it could se­ri­ously work. I see this as the miss­ing link to the re­gen­er­a­tion of Coven­try city cen­tre.”

Asked if he was hope­ful of get­ting the coun­cil on board with his idea, he said he was still wait­ing to hear back from the plan­ning depart­ment.

Mr Denyer added: “I’m not say­ing I have all the an­swers in terms of finance, where and the most ap­pro­pri­ate build­ings. But it would be great to have a con­ver­sa­tion.”

Cook Street BE­FORE

Sil­ver Street AF­TER



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