Regeneration projects are the key to helping Coventry realise its potential and thrive again, according to the city’s regeneration boss.
Coventry City Council has unveiled a £300 million blueprint that will transform the south side of the city centre and will incorporate 443,000 sq ft of new retail space.
Key features will include a newly-built ‘anchor store’ – now proposed as a 120,000sq ft three-storey building near Bull Yard – including a new car park.
It is hoped it would attract a major new department store, which in turn would help attract more quality retailers.
The vision has been vision drawn up by architects Benoy.
Martin Yardley, the council director of city services and development, said: “In Coventry, regeneration schemes have never been as important as now. It’s vital developers continue to be prepared to invest in our city despite the economic climate we’re operating in.
“It’s a tough ask at the moment, and our success over recent years in attracting investment into the city has to step up a gear.
“Ambitious city centre schemes - bringing with them shops, restaurants, cinemas and new homes - can be a gamble even in good times; in times like these the stakes are higher, but the benefits to local people even more important.”
Outline planning permission for the new scheme is expected by the autumn. The hope is to attract a preferred developer by early next year.
Mr Yardley has said that given the economic climate in the last three years, no attempt had been made to attract a preferred developer to market the scheme – on land predominantly owned by the city council and Aviva Investors.
He said the new plans presented a “deliverable” scheme which would reduce the risk to a developer and other investors.
“Councils like ours don’t have masses of capital funding any more to invest, so we need to provide other ways of supporting the private sector to make the plans reality,” he said.
“That includes making our processes as swift and efficient as possible - not necessarily sweeping away the red tape, but finding ways through it that work for both the developers and ourselves.
“We can’t let the people of Coventry and the developers down by allowing identikit shopping malls to spring up to replace the tired shops that have grown up since the city centre was rebuilt after the war.
“It’s probably the first major city centre development scheme in the region that’s emerged and been born out of the new economic reality.
“Partly this is because our city has a long way to go to deliver the shopping offer it should for a city of our size and location. We’re the eleventh largest city in the country, but forty-ninth in terms of our retail offer.
“Our best bet is that the first spade could be in the ground in late 2014, or early 2015.”