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The campaign to secure the Charterhouse for the people of Coventry goes on despite City College advertising the historic building nationally. Chairman of the Trustees Ian Harrabin, said recently: “The Trust suspects the decision not to take back the Charterhouse was taken in the best financial interests of the Council rather than its previous role as Trustee. We were all amazed—as were the college—that the Council did not take up the option.” The Trust is understood to be in a position to fund the Charterhouse within six months if the Council agree to take up its ‘right to acquire’. But funds cannot be raised until the Council agrees to transfer the building. As Ian Harrabin said: “It’s kind of a chicken or egg situation.”

The draft Core Strategy was brief in the extreme yet we were told by a City Planner at our meeting in public that this was the only opportunity to comment on such an important document. Overall we were disappointed with the paucity of content in this new strategy. Compared with a document of 144 pages submitted in 2009, the new document is a mere 12 pages. Of course brevity can be a good thing – that must be why the Government is condensing over 1000 pages of planning guidance to just 52 - but it doesn’t leave much detailed policy open to comment. The Core Strategy is designed around what is called a “hub and spokes” model. The city centre is the hub and the spokes are circles drawn around Canley/Tile Hill, Foleshill, Bell Green / NDC Area, Holbrooks, Willenhall/Whitley and the Arena Park area. We are not sure how the spokes are meant to link to the hub and it could easily have been called a centre and blob strategy. We thought that the strategy lacked a vision. Well there was a vision statement, but it wasn’t very visionary! We would like to see a plan that focuses on improving the quality of the built environment of the city. We told the Planner that we would like it to be a vision for “a Coventry of high quality, walkable, connected neighbourhoods, each with its own vibrant centre, clustered around a pedestrian friendly city centre with a quality public realm and lively streets. Coventry should be a model compact city.” The new plan, unlike the last one, makes a firm commitment to protect the Green Belt from housing development! We explored with the Planner the lack of similar protection from commercial development and we were told that jobs are an equal priority and there might be exceptional reasons for building in the Green Belt if enough jobs are created. We don’t think that this is the best approach and we have asked for the final plan to be clearer about this. Surprisingly, this is the only opportunity for the public to comment on the draft Core Strategy. It will be modified and submitted to the Government and the next time we can have a say is by making a formal objection to the submitted plan. We think that this is the wrong approach and is not in line with the Council’s own Statement of Community Involvement. We will be campaigning for the public to be given another opportunity to comment on such an important document. Our letter of response will shortly be available on the Society’s website. John Payne

    Heritage Weekend Quiz  Know your local shops was the subject of the challenging quiz we ran at the heritage event in September. Ten local shops (one of them pictured left) were featured. Winner of the popular competition was a D.Eaves.

November 2011 Next meeting  November 14 

Coventry City Council is proposing to designate the five and a half miles of the Coventry Canal between the city centre Canal Basin and Hawkesbury Junction as a Conservation Area. By so doing it aims to preserve and enhance the water course together with its historic buildings, trees, green spaces and wildlife habitats. The Council is also aiming to encourage new development on empty sites alongside the canal to maximise the potential of the many attractive waterside locations. We have invited Chris Patrick, the City’s Conservation Officer to present the plan on Monday, November 14. The meeting takes place at the Holy Trinity Centre, Priory Row

starting at 7 pm.

Refreshments. Visitors welcome. The proposal is out to public consultation until November 25. Follow the link on the Society’s website for more information and how to respond to the consultation. on the Canal Art Trail

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


The Society continues to work with Coventry City Council and BL Goodman, owners of New Century Park, to secure the future of two historic buildings, the Copsewood Grange and Lodge. Now, a recent announcement proposes a large residential development by Barratt and David Wilson Homes on the rest of the former GEC site. The full planning application will be for a total of 381 dwellings ranging in size from two to five bedrooms. There will be an element of affordable housing as well as more exclusive ‘aspirational’ homes. Extensive landscaping will include a central park area. At the southern end of the site outline planning permission has been granted for construction of a new school and this land is to be transferred by BL Goodman to Coventry City Council in due course. But the future of the eastern side of New Century Park where the Grange and Lodge stand continues to cause concern. Although designated for commercial and industrial use the Coventry Society argues that there are options that would make better sense in an area of protected parkland which contains a number of trees that are the subject of Tree Preservation Orders, and the two locally listed buildings that must be retained as a condition of planning permission in the agreed wider development plan. We continue to talk to the Council in the hope that the Grange can be brought back to life as a mixed use building, perhaps with a combination of residential units and offices, leisure, hotel/conference. The nearby Lodge itself cries out for residential use and our discussions appear to have moved BL Goodman to market this delightful Victorian building as a separate entity from the Grange. Stuart Daniel

Copsewood Grange

The Lodge

Hard on the heels of the proposed Peugeot warehouse development that was turned down by the Council, comes another proposal for the former Jaguar site at Brown’s Lane. The Design and Access statement by CPP Automotive Facility relates to plot 6 in the original planning approval, and envisages design, research, development and manufacture of ultra low volume prestige cars. World class marques mentioned include Spyker, an emerging production company in the super sports automotive sector; Bowler producing ’all terrain’ super cars; and Zagato, a famous Italian design house. The statement shows a low level building with an impressive showroom fronting onto the main access road. The double height foyer allows glimpses through to the production lines, development and assembly. The proposed development appears to fit well with the original concept for a business park.

Once again we have produced several exclusive Christmas cards that feature festive scenes of historic places in Coventry. All money raised will help us continue the campaigns to preserve and restore the city’s heritage buildings. The cards feature Bayley Lane in portrait with the ruin of Coventry Cathedral; the Old Bluecoat School in Priory Place and Cook Street Gate in landscape. These are A6 in size. There are also cards in A5 size featuring Priory Row and Bayley Lane. The greeting inside is "Happy Christmas". They will be on sale at the November and December meetings. Please email: info@coventrysociety.org.uk if you need to order and collect outside the meetings.

Coventry ‘Then and Now’ is David McGrory’s latest book detailing some of the City’s history in pictures. The book has a brief introduction giving some information as to how Coventry’s buildings and landscapes have altered over the centuries. As far as is possible, given the considerable changes that have taken place, new pictures try to mirror the views of the older ones. Although this idea has been used before, the book seeks to do it in a more systematic and consistent way. Each page depicts two pictures, the ‘then’ sepia tinted, its ‘now’ counterpart in full colour. This gives a bright fresh appeal to the pages. A brief commentary points out buildings of interest and highlights the changes. Some pictures lack definition and as a consequence, details are not clearly discernible, whilst in others, buildings described seem to be out of the frame of the photograph. The first five chapters look at areas in the City Centre, the final two pick out individual areas of interest and particular suburbs. Although some of the old depictions will be familiar from other publications, there is sufficient here to keep the reader interested. What does emerge from the book is the way in which successive councils, both pre and post war, have shown little regard for Coventry’s history and architectural heritage. We can’t blame it all on the Blitz. In all, the publication is a worthy addition to the canon of books outlining Coventry’s past and subsequent development. Terry Kenny COVENTRY THEN AND NOW in colour. by David McGrory is published by The History Press. at £12.99

08 - November 2011  

Heritage Weekend Quiz Refreshments. Visitors welcome. The proposal is out to public consultation until November 25. Follow the link on the S...

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