A £3.8m scheme to transform one of the most historic areas of the city centre is set to move a step closer later this month.
The latest stage of an improvement scheme for the Burges that will see it transformed in the same style as Far Gosford Street and bring in improvements to attract tourists, shoppers and new businesses.
Three years ago, the Council approved an extension to the Lady Herbert’s Garden Conservation Area that gave protection to properties in an area of the Burges, Hales Street and Palmer Lane.
The Council and its heritage partner, Historic Coventry Trust, were then invited to submit an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for funding to improve the area.
The first stage of the application was successful and a £200,000 project was carried out from February 2016 to June last year to develop the scheme and take it to the next level.
Now an application for Stage Two funding has been submitted, and, if successful, will lead to Lottery funding of £1.8m, which will help towards a £3.8m plus scheme to transform the area.
The Lottery funding would be joined by £225,000 from the Historic England partnership Scheme, Council funding and private investment to repair properties, restore old architecture, improve the areas around the exposed part of the River Sherbourne and attract development to fill derelict land.
The whole scheme is aimed at not just improving the appearance of the Burges, but also bringing in more shoppers and visitors to help businesses flourish.
The area is seen as an ideal choice for restoration and regeneration as it is one of the city centre’s last surviving pre-war streets, with features that can be traced back to medieval times and a number of listed buildings.
There have also been improvements to nearby areas of the city centre and any new works would help attract tourists who are visiting the neighbouring Transport Museum and Old Grammar School.
Councillor Jim O’Boyle cabinet member for jobs and regeneration said: “The Far Gosford Street area has been totally transformed and this scheme would help us bring the area around the Burges back into life in the same way.
“It is a very historic part of the city centre and grant funding would allow us to give it the love and attention it needs to become a thriving part of city life once more.
“The city centre has improved so much in recent years, with new buildings, new restaurants and work to make it a greener, more pleasant place for everyone – and there is more on the way, with Nationwide set for demolition later this month, work on more new restaurants at Cathedral lanes well underway and plans for the Upper Precinct taking shape.
“This scheme will add to all that and give residents and tourists something extra and a little bit different – not only protecting our wonderful heritage, but investing in something for the future.”
Consultation has already been carried out with residents and local organisations and the scheme has been welcomed by groups including Culture Coventry, the Business Improvement District, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, the Police and the Coventry Society.
Councillors will discuss the issue at a meeting of the Cabinet on 12 June.
If they agree to the scheme going ahead and funding is approved, work would take place over the next four years.
Ian Harrabin, Chairman of Historic Coventry Trust, said:
“If we get the approvals this month, the Trust will be starting work on restoring buildings later this year.
The biggest impact will be to the rear in Palmer Lane, where the River Sherbourne will be opened up by the Council as the centrepiece of a riverside square with cafés and restaurants.
The restoration of this historic part of the city and the opening up of the river have been community aims for many years. We plan to get off to a flying start and have most of the work completed in time for the tourist spotlight in 2021.”