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Coventry's Hales Street and the Burges Redevelopment

by Paul Maddocks

There was a  recent enquiry about what was happening around the Hales Street area. This is a Conservation Area known as Lady Herbert's Garden and the Burges Conservation Area. It includes such buildings as the two Medieval city gates, Cook Street and Swanswell, together with the Medieval defensive city wall.

The Conservation Area also includes the newly restored Old Grammar School, the old Fire Station, Millennium Place and the Burges and Hales Street. Listed buildings include the former Comley Furniture Manufacturers at 3 The Burges. This was built in 1914 - the upper storeys retain the original attractive stone and brick façade. Other heritage assets include Numbers 5-9 and 11-13 the Burges toether with numbers 1-13 Hales Street, a row of mid-19th century buildings with original features such as stone lintels and sash windows.

One of the other interesting features of this area is a visible stretch of the River Sherbourne behind buildings in the Burges, in the Palmer Lane area.

I have wished for many years that the Sherbourne could be opened up; this was my 1995 sketch:

Image of the Burges Area

And this is what is now proposed:

Burges Plan

View from the Burges side looking into the square

Burges Plan

Grass area with opened up Sherbourne River

Burges Plan

View from the Hales Street looking down into the square.

The proposed development, bounded by Hales Street to the north and Palmer Lane to the south, will form a backdrop to the Palmer Lane development and complete the townscape elevation to Millennium Place and Hales Street, also providing links through from Hales Street and Millennium Place into the Palmer Lane area around the River Sherbourne. The building varies in height by three storey steps. A major feature of the Conservation Area is the variety of architecture from each century. The result of this proposal is that there are limitless opportunities for new planting and landscaping within the site. The new public space created between Hales Street and Palmer Lane will be paved to complement the existing street-scape. Other areas of the site will be treated to match existing finishes in the surrounding highways.

Removable bollards will be used to protect the buildings and users at critical points including the frontage to Palmer Lane and the proposed new sub-station.

The design of the landscaping strategy allows for the future implementation and integration with the Palmer Lane Townscape Heritage Initiative.

Burges Plan

The old Illingworth Signs Building will have an extra floor added on top. The scheme aims to utilise the River Sherbourne as a reference on the facade, contrasting bricks will delineate the location of the river flowing under the building. The reflective quality of the glazed bricks will shimmer as the water near by. The reference will continue along the floor in the public area grounding the development and making a positive connection with the surface treatment of the public realm.

Over the building will be white vinyl lettering as the illustration above shows, appropriate as this building will be trendy new bar.

The Burges and Hales Street

Buildings within the conservation area vary in age and architectural style, ranging from the 11th Century to the present day.

The Burges area to the south west of the site is one of the oldest streets in Coventry and many of the buildings still show evidence of the original medieval timber structures. They will now have investment to restore and develop them back into interesting historical buildings improving the street. Along with the many development going on in this area it sound very interesting especially as we are now the UK City of Culture 2021.

For further reading please see the attached Conservation Area Appraisal published by the Council.

Reader Comments (3)

I have 3 different copies of the 1996 proposal for the same area (Burges / Hales Street) development if they are of interest. Laminated dated 25/7/96. .... the Sherborne has a water wheel!!!

By Colin Kirkham on Sunday, December 17, 2017

The only 3 buildings in the way now, and should be demolished are the ghastly mess between the old grammar school & the motor museum. If this space could then be used to join these 2 buildings together & install a proper Tourist information base, opening up the old access to the grammar school on the silver st side. With this being manned every day the refurbished Old grammar school, parts could be used as another eatery similar to Rising Café.

By sheila bates on Monday, February 12, 2018

It is a shame the Heritage Lottery Fund have turned down this Burges/Hales Street scheme, I hope the next time the application goes in it successfully granted. But Coventry needs to be more proactive on wanting to save its historic heritage Medieval to Post War all counts.

By Paul maddocks on Wednesday, July 18, 2018

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