22nd Sep, 2018

Plans to remove hated Precinct escalator move forward

Les Reid 19th Oct, 2017

PLANS to remove the unpopular escalator in the Upper Precinct are moving forward under redevelopment proposals for Coventry city centre.

And plans for more student accommodation, in the Precinct, are also unveiled.

The escalator up to the first floor of West Orchards shopping centre has been heavily criticised since its creation in the 1990s – not least as it blocks views to the cathedral from the post-war Lower Precinct designed by the then city architect Donald Gibson.

We reported earlier this year some Coventry city councillors’ efforts to finally remove it, and a campaign backed by tourist guide and councillor Roger Bailey, artist Alan Denyer and preservation group the Coventry Society.

Shearer Property Group and the owners of The Upper Precinct have now announced they are consulting on proposals to ‘provide a total transformation of the city’s prime shopping environment’.

In a statement of the council’s website, they say: “The proposals follow the city council’s successful pedestrianisation of Broadgate and will include alterations to the shopfronts, the walkways, the public realm; and the removal of the unsightly escalator to open up the Precinct.

“A new entrance will be provided into West Orchards Shopping Centre and empty upper floors will be brought back into active use with the provision of new student accommodation.”

The proposals will be on show at a public exhibition taking place tomorrow (October 20) and Saturday between 11am and 3.30pm in Unit 2a Cathedral Lanes Shopping Centre.

Stewart Underwood, director of Shearer Property Group, said: “With the recent closure of BHS it is really important that we invest now to create a shopping environment that will help existing and new shops to thrive. Our proposals are an exciting opportunity to rejuvenate the Upper Precinct and the City Centre as a whole.”

Councillor Jim O’Boyle cabinet member for jobs and regeneration said, “I’m pleased that there is a plan to remove the escalators in Upper Precinct – there is no love for them or the ramp which blocks the views of the cathedral spire. And people have been telling us for years that they would like them removed.

“This proposal will mean we get the best of the original Gibson plan back, alongside some modern additions. Hopefully these changes, if approved by planning, will help to attract new shops and restaurants to the area and this work will complement the bigger regeneration plan for City Centre South.”

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