Disputes over the Council House

The design was altered in December 1895 to reverse the original arrangement of placing the new police court in Earl Street and the Council Chamber on the site of the Old Council Chamber and Court, fronting Bayley Lane and St. Mary Street. This scheme, however, never came to fruition. The site was eventually cleared of buildings, largely to help the widening Of Earl Street, but then remained vacant for over a decade. This brought much criticism because many of the demolished buildings had been shops and, according to Six Hundred Years of Municipal Life (1946), this "altered the balance of the business centre of Coventry, and led to some striking changes in site values".

The main reason for the lack of action seems to have been that many local people wanted the new buildings to feature shops on the ground floor and municipal offices on the floors above. A minority, however, argued that a proper, dignified Council House, worthy of the city, should be built. After a long and bitter argument, the majority idea won the day and an application was made to the Local Government Board for permission to raise a loan to cover the cost of erecting the buildings. The President of the Board at that time - John Burns, MP - had worked in the city as a young man and took a personal interest in the application. He successfully persuaded the Corporation that the scheme involving shops and offices was unworthy of Coventry and so, in November 1910, a competition was again set for architects.

Another minor dispute arose over whether or not a town hall, as well as a Council House, should be built. The site was a bit small to house both, but competitors were asked to design both buildings as one scheme, even though the town hall part might not be followed up. For that reason, the conditions stated that: "It will be desirable for competitors to design the Municipal Offices so that they can be erected and completed independently of the Town Hall, but with the ultimate idea of forming one building." Everyone agreed that the new buildings must pay respect to the beautiful historic buildings nearby, especially St. Michael's Church (later the Cathedral) and St. Mary's Hall.