Coventry City Centre South redevelopment - plans unveiled
Wednesday 8 February 2012
A radical move to redevelop Coventry city centre is set to take a major step forward when local people get a first look at the detailed blueprint that will begin transformation.
Coventry City Council has been working in partnership with Aviva - the other major landowner - on a £300 million plan for the city centre south which covers Bull Yard, Shelton Square, City Arcade, Barracks car park and Hertford Street.
The blueprint is based on the comments received from the thousands of local people who took part in a groundbreaking consultation three years ago which resulted in the Jerde vision. These included ensuring any development reflects the pride of local people and is more than just a shopping centre, ensuring future sustainability and creating a flexible plan that can adapt and accommodate changing demands of a 21st century city.
The proposal reflects the city's heritage and is partly inspired by the 1950s Gibson plan - recreating the iconic cross layout and better connecting Market Way, Hertford Street, IKEA and the market. It also looks forward - ensuring it fits with other regeneration projects like Friargate at the station and the transformation of Broadgate as the city's main events square.
As the 11th largest city in the UK (and 9th in England), Coventry ranks 49th in the retail ranking according to spend, lagging behind other similar centres in terms of the quality and range of shops. According to the latest national statistics available for 2010, shoppers spent £510 million over the year in Coventry - this compares to £1,030 million in Cardiff (the 12th biggest city) and £1,810 million in Nottingham ranked as the 14th biggest city.
The plans that will be submitted for outline approval include a new anchor store, a 1,200 space car park, cinema complex, hotel, apartments, new and refurbished retail units of the right size to attract new shops and the reintegration of the market into the scheme.
The configuration, size and number of new units proposed in the plan are designed to attract the big stores and quality brands people would expect to see in a centre as large as Coventry. The scale and viability of the scheme has been carefully planned to provide the best chance of attracting the right developer and range of retailers.
The new 120,000 square foot anchor store (equivalent to almost two full-size football pitches) - located towards Bull Yard will provide retail over three floors. It has been positioned and designed to maximise its appeal to all the top retailers - and includes a new car park. The nearby hotel will include shops below and the cinema will be at first floor level - with restaurants at ground floor level.
Cllr Linda Bigham, Cabinet Member for City Development said: "This blueprint gives a real feel for the way the area will be developed. It builds on our work already underway in Broadgate and on the Station to Bull Yard route which was always aimed at kick-starting the regeneration of our city centre. And critically it is firmly rooted in the ten priorities set by local people as part of the Jerde vision. I believe that this is the beginning of one of the most exciting transformations our city has seen in 50 years - it is what people have been asking for and importantly it is a deliverable plan.
"We have been working with Aviva, the other major landowner, over the last year to make sure we get the plan absolutely right. We have set the design bar very high indeed - but that's because we know how important it is that we don't just create a clone shopping centre like anywhere else. Coventry is unique and has its own special character - and we want to celebrate that. That's why it was so important that the plan retains and improves the cross layout inspired by the Donald Gibson plan after the devastation of the war but still works in a modern way - providing the size of units that today's retailers what and ensuring that it connects to the surrounding area as well as future developments.
"Getting the scale of the new units just right has been very important. But just as important is our support to our independent retailers - now, ahead of the work getting underway, when the redevelopment begins and when it's open for business. Of course a regenerated city centre will benefit all retailers, and independent traders are crucial in making our city centre different to any other. Some existing tenants will need to move to new premises, and we'll do what we can to support them in making this happen. But clearly a new development brings new retailers and attracts more shoppers which is good for everyone.
"Coventry people deserve a city centre they can proud of and this begins the journey to achieving that. I hope everyone is excited as me about seeing the plans."
Cllr George Duggins, Deputy Leader said,: "The Council is facing difficult challenges because of the government spending cuts. But it's vital that we focus on the future, ensuring that we bring jobs to Coventry, continue the regeneration of the city and build a city that everyone can be proud of - the £60m Bishopgate development from Barberry is just the beginning. That means we will continue to invest in our future and make sure that our priorities are the ones that are most important to local people.
"Coventry people have always been willing to embrace change and I hope that everyone will be inspired and impressed by this plan. And that, of course, is what makes it different from before. This is a detailed outline plan which we will submit this April with a decision some time in early Autumn 2012.
Then the real work of securing an appropriate development partner begins."
Gary Cardin (Head of Drivers Jonas Deloitte, Birmingham Office) said: "Coventry has a major opportunity to consolidate and develop its retail offer in a new development that will add to the vibrancy of the city core, provide a new setting for the successful market and create new improved public realm. We are delighted to be working alongside Coventry City Council and Aviva on this project."
John Whateley, from Aviva Investors, said: "We have been working closely with Coventry City Council whilst taking on board the comments from the community consultation in order to outline a comprehensive re-development blueprint for the southern Precinct. The emphasis has been on the deliverability of the scheme, with the proposal seeking to positively enhance Coventry City Centre as a retail and leisure destination."