LONG-HELD ambitions to transform Coventry City centre into the ‘second biggest-shopping destination in the West Midlands’ could be moving a step closer, leading councillors claim.
The City Centre South project – discussed for a decade – is likely to progress further if their proposals to acquire property interests are approved by full council next Tuesday (December 5), they claim.
It is hoped the £200 million-plus development plan would bring in major retailers, new leisure opportunities and city centre housing, vastly improving some of the most out-dated areas of the city centre. They include Bull Yard, Shelton Square, City Arcade and Hertford Street.
The aim for the scheme is to create around 1,500 permanent jobs, with over 2,000 more during the building work. Once opened, it would generate an extra £20million a year for city, councillors claim.
Labour council leaders now want to speed up the land assembly work required by purchasing the leasehold interests in Coventry Point tower block, Hertford House and parts of Hertford Street, as well as Shelton Square/Market Chambers.
The council has already secured a £98.8million grant from the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) towards the cost of the City Centre South scheme.
The funding will also cover the cost of any third party purchases.
The early purchase of these long leasehold property interests may also enable the early demolition of Coventry Point.
Coun Jim O’Boyle, Coventry council’s cabinet member for jobs and regeneration, said: “We want to revive the city centre and bring more local people and visitors to the city centre.
“We are already making an impact by helping to bring new restaurants into Cathedral Lanes and we have recently announced plans to remove the escalator in Upper Precinct.
“I’m hoping that colleagues will now also support the option to purchase a large part of the land in the City Centre South area.
“This will be an important step in helping bring the city centre regeneration plans to life.”
The council wants the scheme to be anchored by a new department store, which would be built at the end of Market Way.
A hotel and leisure part of the development would be based around Hertford Street – linking to Cathedral Lanes, which is also being developed by the Shearer Group.
WMCA finance and investment lead, Warwickshire leading councillor Izzi Seccombe, said: “We are watching this project very keenly as a flagship development for the whole West Midlands region.
“Supporting development on this scale at combined authority level is where we can add real value and I am very pleased to see progress being made.”