THE CENTRE of Coventry is set for a further £44million redevelopment to prepare for UK City of Culture 2021 with new funding set for approval.
The wider project will see improvements to the city’s roads, street lights, cycle lanes and historical sites.
The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) investment board voted to grant the city more than £31million to help achieve the aims of the scheme on Monday (April 15).
Coventry City Council and a Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership Growth Deal will make up the £13million shortfall with work to begin in the summer – if the plans are rubberstamped by the seven member authorities in May.
The Upper Precinct in the city centre is set for a £9million boost as part of the wider plans, along with a further £7million for Smithford Way and Market Way.
The city’s new waterpark ‘The Wave’ is set to be granted about £1.5million and a further £1million will go to safeguarding the city against terrorism.
City centre cycle paths and facilities are set for a £1.5million facelift and Drapers Hall – which is being transformed into a live music venue – will also benefit from £600,000.
Coventry was allocated a £150million share of the government funds in a so-called ‘Devolution Deal’ but has only seen some of that money released.
The council originally applied for £61million but this has been halved due to ‘funding availability within the timescales’ of the project.
A WMCA report on the Coventry City Centre First – City of Culture programme states: “The programme aims to get Coventry ‘City Ready’ to welcome millions of visitors during 2021 and maximise the benefits of this fantastic accolade for the city and wider region to create a lasting impact.
“Further rational for de-scoping the programme has been made to offer timely city centre focused improvements.
“For Coventry there is a need to change perceptions of the city as a place to visit and spend time in order to attract investment, retain talent and grow the visitor economy.
“Additionally, Coventry has one of the lowest graduate retention rates in the UK, the City of Culture programme give the council an opportunity to change the city and create a place where young professionals want to live, work and play.”
The majority of the works are planned to be delivered by the end of 2020 ahead of UK City of Culture 2021, the report states.