Coventry has been chosen as one of the first 10 Heritage Action Zones, Historic England announced today.
This new project will use Coventry’s outstanding heritage as a catalyst to regenerate the city centre and will tackle issues around education, jobs, health and housing.
The city joins Appleby in Cumbria, Elsecar in South Yorkshire, Hull in East Yorkshire, King's Lynn in Norfolk, Nottingham, Ramsgate in Kent, Sunderland in Tyne & Wear, Sutton in South London and Weston-super-Mare in Somerset, which have all been selected as Heritage Action Zones.
Coventry was well known as a medieval centre before the Blitz of 1940 when much of the historic core was destroyed or seriously damaged. The city centre is now based around a post-1945 civic and retail centre, the quality of which is only now beginning to be recognised. Other than widespread affection for the new Cathedral, the richness of Coventry’s historic environment is relatively unknown outside the city. Research has shown that historic places play a fundamental role in economic and social wellbeing and the Heritage Action Zone will unlock this potential.
The Coventry Heritage Action Zone will improve the city centre by doing up shop fronts, encouraging a greater range of retail businesses and bringing back into use abandoned upper floors of historic buildings as accommodation. It will also provide educational opportunities through traditional building skills and crafts apprenticeships.
Veryan Heal, Historic England’s West Midlands Planning Director, said: “We are delighted to be a partner in Coventry's Heritage Action Zone with the City Council, Historic Coventry Trust and others. This new scheme is creating the opportunity and resources to transform Coventry through its heritage, providing grants to improve historic buildings and shop fronts, boosting local skills and creating jobs.”
Councillor Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration at Coventry City Council added: “The launch of the Heritage Action Zone is more great news for the city. It will not only boost the image and profile of Coventry, but act as a catalyst for investment and prosperity too.
“The combination of celebrating the city’s amazing heritage and history alongside real benefits for local communities through providing job opportunities, shows the success of working in partnership to deliver a project for the sustainable and future growth of our city.”
Ian Harrabin, Chairman of Historic Coventry Trust said: “Unlike any other city, Coventry has an incredible variety of heritage ranging from its medieval zenith in the 1300s through to its world leading post-war redevelopment. Yet the attractions of the city are not well known and as a result there is huge potential for heritage to play a major part in its future prosperity. We very much welcome Historic England’s focus on Coventry through the Heritage Action Zone which will be a driving force in increasing appreciation of this special place both for local people and visitors to our city.”