CONSTRUCTION on the first phase of a major new 70-acre £8million heritage park with the Grade-I Listed Charterhouse as its centrepiece has begun.
The plans include full restoration of the Charterhouse – one of only nine Carthusian monasteries built in the UK – and the London Road Cemetery, as well as the creation of a new riverside park and walks.
The first work has now started with the creation of new access off London Road and a 134-space car park which will be completed by November.
There will also be a new pedestrian crossing on London Road linking the Charterhouse and London Road Cemetery.
Improvements to the River Sherbourne, relocation of the children’s play area and the recreation of the monks’ fishing ponds are also part of the package of works.
Developers are also planning the recreation of the tree-lined avenue drive which will become a pedestrian route.
The plans are being executed by the Historic Coventry Trust.
The trust was established in 2011 in response to community action to save the Charterhouse and is now leading a portfolio of heritage projects in the city including The Burges and Drapers’ Hall.
Chairman Ian Harrabin said the start of work is a milestone in the development of the Heritage Park and the result of a big effort from many people to get the project off the ground.
He said: “It is really exciting for us all to see physical work starting after so many years of planning and fundraising.
“This is a hugely important and sensitive project – a much-loved community asset as well as a nationally important heritage site.
“When we started, it all looked very ambitious, but we’re now well on the road to delivery and just about in time for 2021.
“Work on restoring the Charterhouse will be starting in October and we’re already looking at plans and funding for the wider landscape including the former railway loop line as a second phase.”
The 14th century Carthusian monastery is one of Coventry’s oldest buildings and plans include creating interactive displays charting the long history of the Charterhouse, which was founded by King Richard II in 1385, and the recreation of two monks’ cells set in the walled garden along with a café.
There will also be woodland walks and wetland areas and new and improved cycleways along the disused railway.
Cabinet member for jobs and regeneration at Coventry City Council Councillor Jim O’Boyle said: “Charterhouse is a wonderful building, a real jewel in our crown, so it’s great to see work get underway.”