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Chapelfields celebrating the Millennium is one of the lesser known plaques that have been designed and placed on walls around the city. More than 50 have now been recorded on our Flickr page with many more about to be processed. If you know of one we have missed let us know.

The fields: (above) caravans strung out along the river as far as the boundary to the Bluecoat School; (inset left) the Charterhouse building in the background

July 2011

At last Guardians are about to take up accommodation in the Grade 1 listed Charterhouse, just two months after the Society introduced the national organisation Ad Hoc to owners City College. As the list of unoccupied heritage buildings in the city has grown we have seen more and more vandalism and arson attacks on these valuable assets. After our initial discussions it quickly became obvious that Coventry needs to adopt the guardian approach not only at Charterhouse but at other sites in the city. Coincidental to City College’s decision we saw travellers arrive on the field in front of the building after being alerted through a Twitter message. That concerns the Society greatly, especially with the ease of access and possibility of the riverside attracting more travellers. Without wishing to pre-judge these people there have been many instances up and down the country when unruliness and vandalism has followed. Clearly this is the last thing we want to see at Charterhouse. And after all they are occupying the site illegally.

The Society is working with the Council on two schemes that will help to green up our city centre in time for Coventry 2012, when the city hosts Olympic Football as well as celebrating the Consecration of the Cathedral. Both sites (near the Old Grammar School, pictured left) and the area next to the Retail Market, pictured below left) have been remained derelict for sometime as a result of the downturn in the economy. For our part the Society will be helping to recruit support from local traders, citizens and societies like our own, asking them to get involved in the planting of these areas. The Council is drawing up some plans for the hard landscaping with suggested plant species. We shall also attempt to secure gifts and sponsorship for some of the planting as well as organise the volunteers to carry out the work.

The next meeting ….a guided tour of

on Monday, August 8 At 7.00 pm

Rootes built its shadow factory here before WW2 and subsequently for 60 years it was a centre of car assembly. With the huge factory complex now gone the village reverts to isolation from Coventry’s urban fringe. Approach by the London Road and make a left turn into the village. Meet at the community hall next to St Leonard’s Church (pictured above). Coventry Society 123 Upper Spon Street, Coventry CV1 3BQ Tel: 07855 113973 Email: campaigns@coventrysociety.org.uk

More news and views on our website: www.coventrysociety.org.uk


Over the last year or so we’ve heard a lot about the demise of our high streets. Now, with 41% of our towns already classified as ’clonetowns’ and another 23% on the brink Civic Voice has entered the debate. We all know our high streets are struggling in the face of economic decline, out-of-town development, the growth of chain stores and TV retail guru Mary Portas (pictured left) is in the process of carrying out a government-backed review aimed at halting the decline. For our part it’s an opportunity to make real impact and give high streets the support and protection they need. Civic Voice is looking for answers to these questions and will incorporate our thoughts in its submission: 1. What do you think are the problems with the high street? 2. What do you think should be done to solve them? 3. How might these solutions work in practice? 4. Who should be involved in taking these solutions forward? 5. Can Coventry Society have a role? Several interesting letters appear on web pages and provide us with food for thought. One of them is from James Bergier. He writes: There are many reasons why the High Street is suffering: 1- lack of footfall (due to expensive or insufficient parking measures) 2 - lack of retail diversity (due to excessive rates for independent businesses) 3 - Presentation (often shopping streets look dowdy or down at heel as the premises themselves are not well maintained). There are many solutions, the easy immediate ones I could recommend would be a) Offer more incentives to property developers to encourage people to live in town centres. b) Encourage local councils to tackle the problem of parking by offering a ticket scheme whereby you buy a book of tickets at a very reduced rate to allow you to park free for a two hour period (say twice a week) on streets as close as possible to town centres or in car parks. This would encourage footfall. c) To tackle the lack of retail diversity, offer significantly reduced business rates and corporation tax on all new retailers or service providers who wish to start new businesses with a retail space in town centres. In addition one could ask the big retailers to subdivide some of their businesses so that for instance Tesco or Sainsburys' could open clothes boutiques (at the same prices as their superstores, perhaps encouraging them to offer slightly more luxurious lines in the town centre boutiques). For independent retailers, encourage retail synergy, so for instance local craftspeople (jewellery designers, seamstresses, upholsterers etc.) could have tax breaks if they share premises with another business, new start up retail businesses should have more flexible rental terms when leasing retail units, on a par with the residential sector (24 month leases with break clauses every 12 months which would allow unsuccessful businesses to cease trading without catastrophic consequences to the owners as they aren't tied into 3 or 5 year leases). There should be more street markets with a bit more quality control of the retail offering, festivals celebrating particular foods of the world or products of the world or a particular service (hair and beauty - one could have all the hairdressers and beauty salons in an area throwing their doors open and offering demonstrations on the day and reduced prices for services on the day). There also needs to be a cap on the number of businesses of the same type offering the same service in the same area (to prevent, for instance, a proliferation of charity shops on one street, too many estate agents on one street, pound shops or whatever). Why can't big retailers like B&Q do the same as Sainsburys' and offer "local" shops (B&Q local), or offer the gardening section of those stores locally? d) Opening times - a major issue for many. Most people work 8 - 6 and shops are open 10 - 6. This is patently nonsense. Independent retailers should reconsider their opening times and be customer friendly in terms of their opening times, perhaps opening from 11-3 and then from 5-9, opening on Saturdays and Sundays and closing on Mondays and Tuesdays when most people don't shop or use the services. e) Presentation, either landlords who don't maintain the exterior of their buildings should be fined (unless they keep them in good condition) or one could incentivise them, rebates on the business rate if the properties are repainted every 3 years, for instance. Councils need to pay more attention to cleanliness of the pavements and public areas in town centres with daily cleaning. This is done in most countries in Europe, so why not in the UK? Please email Chair@coventrysociety.org.uk with your comment and suggestions.

Copsewood Grange

We understand the fire service has changed its stance to one of protection rather than recommendation of demolition. So it will continue to protect the site if arsonists gain entrance again to go through with their appalling work. The Council has now agreed to call a meeting with the owners, Goodman, when we will have the opportunity to meet them again and discuss possible ways forward. We have already suggested that constraints on end use might be relaxed to enable a mixed use for the site.

Green Flag Awards

Coventry now has four Green Flag Parks—Coombe Abbey Country Park, Allesley, Caludon Castle and Longford Parks.

Visitors from Cambs

Members of the civic society from the Cambridgeshire town of St. Ives will be spending the day with us on Saturday, September 17. Rather than the more popular sites we shall take them to the historic watchmaking district, the Coventry Canal and hidden Coventry, like the Priory Undercroft. We shall make the Weavers’ House the base for the visit.

Telegraph site

The future of the Coventry Telegraph site was described at a recent Development Forum in the Council Chamber. A plan for mixed development including apartments, shops, and a hotel was released, although it is anticipated that plans will remain on hold until the market picks up.

Student Flats

Proposals for student flats in the Alma Street /Raglan Street area were considered to be out of keeping with nearby property. We asked that the Council make this a consideration when deliberating on this planning application.

HS2

With the validity of High Speed 2 being heavily challenged in various quarters, we shall have a briefing on the case against this controversial project at our September meeting.

05 - August 2011  

The fields: (above) caravans strung out along the river as far as the boundary to the Bluecoat School; (inset left) the Charterhouse buildin...

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