COVENTRY’s struggling decade-long plans for its flagship Friargate business park next to the station have been dealt a severe blow with the withdrawal of its only private sector tenant, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
We revealed only last month that a deal had been struck for the already Coventry-based RICS to relocate and share Friargate One – the tower now visible from the ringroad which will become Coventry City Council’s new office block later this year.
For four years, it had been hoped RICS would be moving into a planned second tower block at the proposed business park where more than 30 buildings have been planned for more than a decade.
The council and RICS’s tenancies were meant to act as a ‘honey pot’ for further companies to relocate to Coventry, in the words of council chief executive Martin Reeves, attracting massive inward investment and boosting the flagging city centre with “up to 15,000 jobs”.
But it has been confirmed by the council today that RICS has unexpectedly pulled out.
The RICS board met today where the decision was taken, the council says. The local authority says it will now revert back to the original plan with ‘1,800 people moving into the new 11 storey building later this year’ from council offices elsewhere in the city centre being sold to Coventry University.
Commenting on the board decision Councillor Jim O’Boyle, cabinet member for jobs and regeneration said, “I’m disappointed though not surprised that the RICS have decided against a move to Friargate.
“When I knew the second building at Friargate wouldn’t be built quickly enough for RICS we moved fast to come up with a solution for them, so this is disappointing news. But we wish the RICS well with whatever their next move is.
“Now, for us it’s simple – we will crack on with working with the developer to attract other businesses to the site. We believe Friargate has great potential but this experience demonstrates that a more robust approach to the development of the critical Friargate scheme is needed, so that’s what’s we will be working on.”
Councillors agreed a plan on 24 January that allowed the RICS to take over two and a half floors of the 11 storey building now taking shape.The plan would have seen the Council sub-letting the office space at Friargate and extending the lease at Westwood Business Park so RICS could sublet to another tenant and generate income.”