14th Nov, 2018

Plans just got bigger for towering student blocks beside medieval gems

Les Reid 6th Mar, 2018 Updated: 6th Mar, 2018

PROPOSALS for two huge student tower blocks which campaigners say will overshadow some of Coventry’s most important listed medieval buildings have just got even bigger!

Despite a raft of official and other objections including from Coventry Airport, developers have now raised one of the tower blocks’ height, ahead of seeking planning permission.

The plans, which went to public consultation, proposed two tower blocks on the site of the Coventry Boys’ Club, Whitefriars Lane, city centre, of 13 and 17 storeys.

But now, with the consultation ended, the proposals are for 16 and 18 storeys.

It means plans have been amended to a towering structure that will dominate the city’s skyline even more.

A Coventry council spokesperson confirmed to the Coventry Observer the new designs would raise the height of one of the blocks by two storeys.

They added one of the ‘additional storeys’ for each block were simply numerical, because the ground floor had previously been undesignated as a storey (called ‘Ground 0’).

The council provided the following statement to us.

A council spokesperson said: “There have been lots of changes to this scheme and we have done lots of work with the applicant to make sure that the development works for the near neighbours including the listed buildings on Gosford Street.

“The developer originally wanted the block closest to Gosford Street to be 12 storeys high but we were very clear that the step up needed to be incremental so now the nearest section will be just six storeys high.

“As a response to this the application, which will go to planning committee, also now includes two more storeys on one of the blocks.”

Campaigner Rob Gill, of Gosford Books in medieval Gosford Street, said: “One of the towers will be even taller.

“Shouldn’t they at least re-start the public consultation?”

The proposal is due to go before the council’s planning committee on March 15.

As we reported last month, Coventry Airport has formally objected, saying the development will breach international flying safety standards.

Overstretched University Hospital has financial concerns about emergency health cover to 778 new residents, and is seeking money from the developers.

And Chris Patrick, the council’s own conservation officer, had formally objected “on grounds of the harm it will cause to the setting of the listed buildings on Gosford Street.”

The council’s own environment and highways officers have also formally raised concerns about traffic, noise and pollution for residents, and the buildings’ design.

Nearby buildings listed for their ‘special architectural or historic interest’ include the Grade I listed Whitefriars Musuem building and the gateway to it in Much Park Street – part of a 14th century friary; the grade II-listed Whitefriars pub: the grade II listed Oak Inn building; and medieval Gosford Street buildings.

Other formal objections have come from the Coventry Society and residents.

Developers the Watkin Jones Group’s submission argues the area’s character and assets won’t be harmed, partly because of 1960s redevelopment which included “low quality” commercial buildings, and more recent university buildings.

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