‘COVENTRY is leading the way, enjoying a renaissance and showing others what a modern day city should be like’ – they were the words of Coun Jim O’Boyle during the Big Tent Ideas Festival.
Speaking in during a discussion on the future of city and town centres, the council’s Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration, said Coventry was bucking the national trend with empty shops decreasing and previously vacant premises being taken up.
He added with online ordering and retail parks, city and town centres were no longer just about shopping, it was about offering an ‘experience’.
“Coventry is slightly ahead of the curve – we have some great new restaurants opening, there has been investment in the Herbert Art Gallery and The Belgrade Theatre and we have the new collection centre being housed in the former Ikea building.”
That, in conjunction with Arts Council England and other organisations, would see the venue house nationally important pieces of work which were currently in storage.
Coun O’Boyle said there were now more green spaces and more water features – places where people of all ages and families could come and enjoy the public space.
“We need more people to come and live in the city centre as that leads to less crime.
“People take ownership of the centre and want to know what is going on in their back yard.”
He cited the new £50million 17-storey residential tower on the iconic Elliott’s Car Accessories site which will boast 200 apartments and other accommodation in the city centre.
Trish Willetts, the Coventry BID (Business Improvements Director), echoed Coun O’Boyle’s sentiments and said there were now more than 200 independent businesses in the city centre and a further 70 in FarGo Village.
“Coventry was one of the first pedestrianised centres in the UK, if not the world and our independent businesses has risen to the challenge, despite the pandemic.
“We have had many open, including Metropolis, Fratellis and the HMV Empire.
“The pandemic has made businesses think more about what they can do outside their premises.”
She also highlighted a new borough market which started in Spon Street after Coventry had learnt about a similar one set up in Hull which proved extremely popular.”
- WHAT do you think of Coventry city centre? What would you like to see in the heart of the city? Email your views to firstname.lastname@example.org
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