A DEVELOPER has finally spoken out after weeks of controversy by claiming the ancient Coventry Cross monument will be moved carefully to a “superior setting”.
It comes amid a petition signed by 800 people against relocating it from the historic cathedral quarter behind Cathedral Lanes shopping centre to a spot outside Primark and Greggs.
The Shearer Property Group, which plans to regenerate Cathedral Lanes as a ‘restaurant quarter’, has applied for planning permission to move the sculpture to Ironmonger Row, with support from Coventry City Council leaders.
Opponents, including the monument’s celebrated sculptor George Wagstaffe, are concerned its new setting will be inappropriate.
Its removal, restoration and relocation is also set to cost the taxpayer at least £150,000, although opponents claim the bill will be far more.
The landmark – a 1970s replica of the medieval monument built in the 14th century – has been located in Trinity Square next to Holy Trinity Church since 1976.
Shearer Property Group’s Guy Shearer said: “We fully understand the affection in which local people hold the Coventry Cross – but the plans take that fully into account.
“The application will allow the council to carefully dismantle the 1970s cross, take it away for cleaning and restoration and then re-site it in Ironmonger Row.
“Not only will that see it back closer to the site where the original reportedly stood, but it will be seen by far more people than where it currently stands.
“This is a superior location and setting for the monument with greater prominence and space around it.”
Mr Shearer added that the cross was currently in a restricted location overshadowed by a number of buildings.
He said its relocation would provide the opportunity to create a public square and enable significant improvements, such as removing the 1980s brick walls and metal railings and adding artwork.
The plans are set to go before Coventry City Council’s planning committee this month.
Coun O’Boyle added: “Everyone can see that a thriving new restaurant quarter at Cathedral Lanes is already bringing more life and vitality to this area.
“All of the important elements of how the Coventry Cross will be removed, refurbished, and relocated are being considered and it will also be closer to its original location.
“Separate to this I understand parts of the original Coventry Cross are on display at the Herbert Art Gallery and I have asked colleagues to approach the gallery with a view to finding out whether elements of the original Coventry Cross can be incorporated into this new artwork.”