PROPOSALS to relocate historic monument the Coventry Cross to outside Primark and Greggs have sparked anger – and are set to cost the taxpayer £150,000.
The ancient landmark – located between the cathedral and Holy Trinity Church – dates back to the 14th Century.
It was replicated by sculptor George Wagstaff in 1976 and is hailed as an iconic part of the city’s medieval history.
Councillor Jim O’Boyle conceded the relocation is due to requests by a retailer which is considering opening a restaurant in an expanded Cathedral Lanes shopping centre – and wants an outside area to the rear near to the Coventry Cross.
Opposition comes from heritage group the Coventry Society, whose Vincent Hammersley said: “Are we going to move Lady Godiva because someone wants a McDonald’s there?
“Plonking a medieval cross in front of Lego Land is ridiculous.”
He told us the plan would be an ‘obscenity’ and said if it needed to be relocated it should remain nearer the medieval quarter.
Coun O’Boyle claimed the cross would be moved to its original position although the Coventry Society contested the credibility of this claim – saying its original position was actually at the front of Primark, in Broadgate.
Coun O’Boyle, Labour cabinet member for jobs and regeneration, added the new location would make the Coventry Cross more visible to visitors and shoppers.
He added he did not want to get into a debate with ‘unelected and self-appointed’ spokespeople for the citizens of Coventry.
He told us the relocation will go ahead regardless of the public views.
He said: “I believe we can get the planning decision in September, we can start work in October and I am told December would be when the work would be completed for the Cross.”
Critics have also questioned why taxpayers and not the retailer should meet the cost of the move.
Mr Wagstaff said the new position for the cross would be out of character with the modern architecture of the area around Primark.
He said it was designed to be in its current location, with its sandstone design matching the materials used of the medieval architecture in the area, including the Holy Trinity Church and cathedral spires.
Coun O’Boyle said he ‘makes no apologies’ for the £10million investment plans for Cathedral Lanes’ expansion which would ‘drive’ Coventry’s economy, including the Upper Precinct’s redevelopment.