A Coventry car park could be given a new lease of life, helping to regenerate part of the city centre and continue the city’s universities’ success story.
Councillors are to discuss plans to sell part of the Cox Street car park to CODE Student Housing. It would pave the way for a £50 million investment in a high quality, 1,000 bed student housing scheme.
The plan will be discussed by members of the Cabinet on 9 February.
Cox Street currently has 319 short stay spaces and is mainly used by people visiting the swimming pool and leisure centre opposite.
Just over half of the car park would be sold for the housing plan. The remaining 144 car parking spaces, mainly those under the Ring Road, would still be available to other users. The development could also include parking spaces.
The new housing would be available for use by students from both Coventry University and the University of Warwick.
Councillor Kevin Maton, Cabinet Member, Business, Enterprise and Employment, said: “In the past 12 months, Coventry has made massive strides towards its goal of being a top 10 city as it continues its fast-track transformation. The city has continued to change and attract investment as it works towards a brighter future, creating jobs and a better city.
“The University of Warwick and Coventry University have continued to thrive and bring in talented students from across the world, giving the city centre a great new atmosphere and revitalising formerly run-down areas.
“The city centre needs to be active and vibrant by day and by night and having people living here will help create the sort of city centre we want. Building purpose-built accommodation also means fewer home conversions in local communities. For every six students who live in developments like this, it's one fewer house converted to a home in multiple occupation.
“By creating purpose-built student accommodation with award-winning firms such as CODE, we are not only helping the city centre and all the shops and businesses that rely on student trade, we are freeing up houses for families that were previously used as student lodging.
“The Cox Street car park is not used to its full capacity and this plan will rejuvenate that area and add to the growing ‘buzz’ around the city centre.”
The Council is currently looking at car-park provision across the city and a report to councillors says there are plenty of spaces available. Three other car-parks - Lower Ford Street, Grove Street and White Street – are all close to Cox Street and the parking spaces at White Street could also be used to provide some spaces.
The new student housing would help support the growth of the city’s two universities, which have both won national recognition recently, with Coventry named ‘University of the Year’ in November 2015 by the Times Higher Education Awards .
The University, which has already breathed new life into several empty city centre buildings by creating student accommodation, will develop the site left vacant by the Council when it moves to Friargate, creating a new headquarters, international student centre and a business incubation unit through a multi-million pound investment.
The University currently has 23,000 students, with the figure expected to rise in the next five years to around 30,000.
Around 6,000 new students arrive each year as first-year students or ‘freshers’ and the University aims to offer each of those students a place in purpose-built student halls for a year – with other students also offered places if they wish. At present, there are about 5,000 bed spaces available.
Also, Warwick University is growing, with limited space on campus, and they are expected to need another 2,000 bed spaces over the coming years.