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In response to plans unveiled for the redevelopment of the southern section of the city centre and following consultation with its members, the Society has submitted its comments to the City Council. This is an extract from the full response submitted by our Secretary:
We are largely in support of current  proposals for City Centre South and welcome the reconfiguration and 'opening up' of areas including Market Way, Shelton Square and the Bull Yard that are tired and in urgent need of regeneration.
We view the decision to retain and build upon the existing Precinct Cross created by the Gibson plan as a positive one.
The consensus among our members is that the opening up of the 'bridge' into Broadgate from Hertford Street and the better access to/from IKEA would greatly improve the flow of people around the central shopping area.
We also support a mix of uses other than retail (specifically including leisure and residential) to ensure that the Precinct area has life 24 hours a day—sorely lacking from the area concerned at present. The Society also welcomes the decision to demolish Coventry Point.
Design and Architecture
We would like to see quality buildings with a commitment to the highest levels of design and architecture.  Serious consideration should be given to the creation of a Design Brief for the area with Hertford Street quite different from the Market Way area.
The aspiration for quality architecture should extend equally to the flag ship 'anchor' store as well as the general street pattern that is to be reinstated.  The design of specific buildings/areas might come through competitions.
We understand that the various 'blocks' of development would be developer led. However, Coventry's primary shopping area is in desperate need of high quality architecture and we take the view that the frontages of the new blocks (if not the skeletal structures of the blocks themselves) should be architect led.  One of the problems with Market Way, Shelton Square, Bull Yard etc. at present is that many of the buildings are uniform and monotonous. There is little architectural variety and consequently the area appears dull and boring. It is essential that Coventry does not repeat the mistakes of the past by again creating vast new monotonous blocks of development. 
Hertford Street
We believe that particular consideration needs to be given to the design of Hertford Street. At the upper end a number of key heritage buildings exist including the NatWest bank and the former Post Office. A commitment should be given to the preservation and reuse of these buildings which easily lend  themselves to mixed use conversion.New buildings which surround the upper end of Hertford Street should respect the height, scale and material palette of the former Post Office and NatWest bank.
The lower end of Hertford Street also needs particular consideration.  Single-storey buildings (Northern Rock, Game Station, Eat 4 Less, etc) have little architectural merit. The height and scale of these buildings is considered to be inappropriate and opportunities to increase the height and re-use of these buildings should be explored.
We would like to see greater residential use in Hertford Street. The recent  conversion of the upper levels of the former Post Office buildings serves as an example.  We would also like to see the removal of the split level arrangement and reinstatement of the single level incline.
Methodist Central Hall
This is a prominent landmark that should be retained and would readily enhance any new scheme surrounding it.  This handsome building benefits from an excellent central location and could serve as a first class music venue, civic hall, independent departmental store should it no longer be required as a place of worship.   New public realm improvements could follow.
Fords Hospital
There is an opportunity to vastly improve the setting of Grade 1 listed Fords Hospital. Every effort should be made to remove the (dark and narrow) tunnel that currently links Greyfriars Road to Hertford Street and create an open space to the front of the historic building.
Mix of Uses
We support the broad range of uses proposed, and consider a greater volume of residential and non-retail uses should be incorporated, especially in Market Way.
Some of our members expressed concern about the viability of a new cinema complex in such close proximity to the Odeon Cinema at the SkyDome.  The scheme should complement  SkyDome and Spon Street areas, not detract from them. One possible alternative use for the cinema complex proposed in the Precinct area is a bowling alley.
Small Independent Traders
While we do not necessarily challenge the proposed demolition of the current City Arcade / Greyfriars Walk buildings, we are concerned about the loss of small independent traders from the city centre area.  We see the loss of smaller units at lower rents as a backward step.  A successful urban centre contains a mix of retail as evidenced by popular shopping destinations such as Leicester, Leamington Spa and Birmingham.
We believe therefore that every effort should be made to both retain the existing small independent traders in the City Centre South area and also attract new small independent businesses. More imaginative schemes should be considered including a 'premise / rent sharing' complex similar to Affleck's Palace in Manchester's Northern Quarter.
 

 

Coventry Society's response to City Centre South proposals

 

In response to plans unveiled for the redevelopment of the southern section of the city centre and following consultation with its members, the Society has submitted its comments to the City Council. This is an extract from the full response submitted by our Secretary:


We are largely in support of current  proposals for City Centre South and welcome the reconfiguration and 'opening up' of areas including Market Way, Shelton Square and the Bull Yard that are tired and in urgent need of regeneration.


We view the decision to retain and build upon the existing Precinct Cross created by the Gibson plan as a positive one.
The consensus among our members is that the opening up of the 'bridge' into Broadgate from Hertford Street and the better access to/from IKEA would greatly improve the flow of people around the central shopping area.


We also support a mix of uses other than retail (specifically including leisure and residential) to ensure that the Precinct area has life 24 hours a day—sorely lacking from the area concerned at present. The Society also welcomes the decision to demolish Coventry Point.


Design and Architecture
We would like to see quality buildings with a commitment to the highest levels of design and architecture.  Serious consideration should be given to the creation of a Design Brief for the area with Hertford Street quite different from the Market Way area.


The aspiration for quality architecture should extend equally to the flag ship 'anchor' store as well as the general street pattern that is to be reinstated.  The design of specific buildings/areas might come through competitions.


We understand that the various 'blocks' of development would be developer led. However, Coventry's primary shopping area is in desperate need of high quality architecture and we take the view that the frontages of the new blocks (if not the skeletal structures of the blocks themselves) should be architect led.  One of the problems with Market Way, Shelton Square, Bull Yard etc. at present is that many of the buildings are uniform and monotonous. There is little architectural variety and consequently the area appears dull and boring. It is essential that Coventry does not repeat the mistakes of the past by again creating vast new monotonous blocks of development. 


Hertford Street
We believe that particular consideration needs to be given to the design of Hertford Street. At the upper end a number of key heritage buildings exist including the NatWest bank and the former Post Office. A commitment should be given to the preservation and reuse of these buildings which easily lend  themselves to mixed use conversion.New buildings which surround the upper end of Hertford Street should respect the height, scale and material palette of the former Post Office and NatWest bank.


The lower end of Hertford Street also needs particular consideration.  Single-storey buildings (Northern Rock, Game Station, Eat 4 Less, etc) have little architectural merit. The height and scale of these buildings is considered to be inappropriate and opportunities to increase the height and re-use of these buildings should be explored.


We would like to see greater residential use in Hertford Street. The recent  conversion of the upper levels of the former Post Office buildings serves as an example.  We would also like to see the removal of the split level arrangement and reinstatement of the single level incline.

Methodist Central Hall
This is a prominent landmark that should be retained and would readily enhance any new scheme surrounding it.  This handsome building benefits from an excellent central location and could serve as a first class music venue, civic hall, independent departmental store should it no longer be required as a place of worship.   New public realm improvements could follow.


Fords Hospital
There is an opportunity to vastly improve the setting of Grade 1 listed Fords Hospital. Every effort should be made to remove the (dark and narrow) tunnel that currently links Greyfriars Road to Hertford Street and create an open space to the front of the historic building.


Mix of Uses
We support the broad range of uses proposed, and consider a greater volume of residential and non-retail uses should be incorporated, especially in Market Way.
Some of our members expressed concern about the viability of a new cinema complex in such close proximity to the Odeon Cinema at the SkyDome.  The scheme should complement  SkyDome and Spon Street areas, not detract from them. One possible alternative use for the cinema complex proposed in the Precinct area is a bowling alley.


Small Independent Traders
While we do not necessarily challenge the proposed demolition of the current City Arcade / Greyfriars Walk buildings, we are concerned about the loss of small independent traders from the city centre area.  We see the loss of smaller units at lower rents as a backward step.  A successful urban centre contains a mix of retail as evidenced by popular shopping destinations such as Leicester, Leamington Spa and Birmingham.


We believe therefore that every effort should be made to both retain the existing small independent traders in the City Centre South area and also attract new small independent businesses. More imaginative schemes should be considered including a 'premise / rent sharing' complex similar to Affleck's Palace in Manchester's Northern Quarter.
 

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