Councillors are set to draw up a priority list of public realm improvements that will continue to change the face of Coventry and get the city ready for its year in the spotlight as UK City of Culture
The city centre has already been transformed through £57m of works over the past six years and now councillors say they need to prepare for the next stage as the city continues to attract investment and new development.
The work would also capitalise on Coventry’s role as City of Culture in 2021 – improving links across the city and making sure venues and attractions have the best possible setting.
The list sets out schemes the Council wants to do – in the order they would like them to be done – but many of the projects would depend on when funding becomes available.
The plans continue the massive public realm work already undertaken around the city, including the transformation of Broadgate and Council House Square.
Other work has seen improvements to the areas around the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry University and Holy Trinity Church. The walk from the railway station has been transformed and recently the city’s much-loved horse sculpture Bucephalus, more commonly known as Trigger, was put back on show in Greyfriars Green
Now these new schemes would link those key areas of the city and top attractions to make the city centre green, attractive and accessible for everyone.
By completing the list now, it means the Council can act quickly to secure any cash from government, Europe, or other areas. The funds would come from grants earmarked purely for such work and would not be able to be used in other Council services.
Schemes include the transformation of Upper Precinct, including decluttering and improvements to tie in with other work and link the restaurant quarter at Cathedral Lanes and City Centre South.
Others projects include improvements around the new waterpark and leisure centre, work around Smithford Way and Market Way and work around the planned car park in Salt Lane to mirror improvements in Greyfriars Lane and create an attractive walking route to the Cathedral quarter.
Councillor Jayne Innes, Coventry City Council’s Cabinet Member for City Services, said: “The work so far has really changed the city and made a massive difference to residents and businesses. It has helped us to attract new restaurants and developments and the city has really come to life.
“We have seen massive improvements to other areas and we have won national and regional awards.
“Now, after being named UK City of Culture, we are in a fantastic position to really do something special and not just give our thousands of visitors the best experience possible, but build something lasting for the residents of the city.
“We wanted the title of City of Culture because we knew it would lead to amazing things for Coventry and this is the next stage in that very exciting work.”
Councillor Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration, added: “These are such great times for our city - when you look at all the work so far and the projects just around the corner like the waterpark and City Centre South.
“We know we won’t be able to do all of this work in time for 2021, but by setting out our aims now and drawing up this list we can make sure we are ready to apply for any funding as soon as it becomes available..
“We want to be in pole position so we can put our case forward and continue to improve the city at the incredible pace we have set so far.
“These schemes will do more than just make our city look good. They will help us to attract investment and bring in new organisations and firms and the jobs that go with them. That will help our shops and restaurants and bring a massive financial boost to the city – making life better for everyone.
“It is an ambitious programme of work, but we are an ambitious city.”
The public realm projects would be supported by general work such as improvements to cycleways, road signs, coach parking and other areas. Around 14 new members of staff would be needed to see the programme through.
Councillors will be told the order could change depending on funds available and how works could be timetabled.
As many as possible will be completed before 2021, with the remainder from 2022 onwards, at a total programme cost of around £120m.
Councillors will be asked to agree the priority programme and give officers the power to apply for funding for the schemes at a meeting of the Cabinet Member for City Services on 6 March.
Projects will be funded from a range of sources including grant from WMCA Devolution Deal and the Government’s Local Growth Fund through Coventry & Warwickshire LEP.