COVENTRY’S long-planned Friargate ‘business park’ scheme next to Coventry station has finally received an extra £50million of government cash promised as part of a ‘devolution deal’ with the West Midlands.
Around £150million for Coventry City centre was expected as the region set up and new metro mayor-headed West Midlands Combined Authority in 2016, since when only £100million had been forthcoming.
The Friargate plans for up to 30 office blocks and 15,000 jobs have been more than a decade in the pipeline.
But only one tower block has been built, where the council and Financial Ombudsman are tenants.
Last month, the council announced it was buying a 50 per cent stake with Irish developers Cannon Kirk to build a delayed second block and kickstart the project.
Now the WMCA funding has been secured.
The authority has agreed to pump £51 million into Phase 1 of the scheme next to Coventry railway station.
The WMCA has also agreed to invest a further £39.4 million towards the £82 million cost of redeveloping the station, a council statement added.
The expected funding was agreed at a meeting of the WMCA board in Birmingham today (Friday March 9).
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “It is fantastic news that the WMCA is to help fund two developments that are of huge importance for Coventry.
“Exciting schemes such as these are part of the reason why Coventry is a city on the up, especially with it winning UK City of Culture in 2021.
“The more we can do to stimulate economic growth in the region with schemes like this to create jobs and prosperity, the better for people living and working here.”
George Duggins, Leader of Coventry City Council, said: “I’m really pleased that we have secured this funding. Our station is the fastest growing outside London and we are keen to help ensure Friargate gets moving. This cash will help with this, so it’s great news.
”Coventry is a fine city at the very heart of the UK so we need to make sure that our transport links are fit for the future so we can continue to attract investment and create jobs for local people. And by investing in Friargate we hope to ensure that building gets underway soon.
“Coventry is changing all the time and these two projects are at the very heart of our plans and central to our ambition to ensure our city continues to flourish.”
Phase One of Friargate comprises five office blocks and a hotel.
The Coventry Station Masterplan project will transform the current Grade-II listed railway station, which is virtually unchanged since it opened in 1962 and now operating beyond passenger capacity, the council said.
A council statement continued; “The scheme will see new infrastructure including a second station building, a 644 space multi-storey car park – 350 more spaces than the current car park – and a new footbridge connecting all platforms.
“There will be a new platform to enable more frequent services between Coventry and Nuneaton, a six-bay bus interchange with provision for rail replacement services, and highway improvements to deal with traffic around the station and bus interchange.
“Completion is scheduled for 2020 and the new-look station will be able to handle more train services.
“This will include greater frequencies for Canley and Tile Hill stations as part of an increase in the number of services between Coventry and Birmingham from seven to nine trains an hour.
“It will also enable additional services to be introduced between Coventry and Nuneaton.
“Longer term it will potentially provide more direct services to the north east, including Leicester and Nottingham, and serve as a major gateway from Coventry to HS2.”