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Our AGM—an opportunity to put forward your ideas followed by Mark Webb speaking on the lost buildings of

Much Park Street Monday, April 13 at 7.30pm Shop Front Theatre, City Arcade

April 2015


Martin Yardley, Executive Director of Place, said: “In planning terms this is the critical bit—cladding would have required permission. Painting does not.” The insensitive action by Study Inns transforming what was one of the best city centre high rise buildings into a depressing edifice almost like ‘a Lego building’ has alienated a significant section of the local population. After applying for retrospective permission to paint the once bronze glass of the former AXA building in a pattern of red, grey and blue, more than 70 locals wrote to the city council objecting to the plan. Sadly much of the painting was already completed as the last day of consultation arrived. To make matters even worse Coventry Council suddenly informed some

objectors that planning permission after all was not required and Study Inns would have its application returned. Coventry Society would have thought that discussions between Study Inns and city planners might have caused questions to be asked when a particularly well-designed building, and dominant both in the city centre and viewed from the suburbs, was about to be transformed into something quite different. Having made so many improvements to the public realm in the city centre surely planners would have questioned whether a quality building like the former AXA should be radically changed in appearance, rather than conserved as a model for future developments. Apparently not. We said in our objection: It's a common error to paint something that's ugly in fairground colours in the hope of improving its appearance. The paint doesn't hide anything; it just accentuates the ugliness. In the case of the AXA building, it's already an elegant building so it doesn't gain from painting it in fairground colours. The patchwork of strident colours several storeys above ground is noticeable from various directions including viewpoints some miles away. It doesn't add anything to the appearance of the city. It appears to be a form of advertising, including the large sign that has been erected. The current rash of painting the outsides

of buildings appears to be due to designers who are paid a percentage of the cost of the works they design, so it isn't in their interest to say "It's OK, leave it alone". Instead they want to slap paint on every surface, thus creating a maintenance liability that was not there before. The large number of brick pubs that have been painted is an example. A new coat of paint may attract business in the short term, but unless the building's owner has the resources and the will to maintain the painted surface, the appearance will deteriorate over time. In the case of a multi-storey building, maintenance will be expensive so is more likely to be neglected. We should be developing the city for the long term rather than for short -term gimmicks with long-term penalties. Only durable facings that are polite neighbours should be permitted. We note that the work has already been carried out. The large number of retrospective applications recently suggest that developers are sensing that planning permission is more likely if the work has already been done. Worse still, the council has contributed funding for this project through its Coventry Investment Fund.” Coventry Society seizes every opportunity to take part in council consultations that will hopefully bring about a better quality city. This most unpleasant saga has left a bitter taste and concerns both our members and the wider community.

Another retrospective application The Bluecoat C of E School failed to apply for permission to construct a car park on land adjacent to the garden at Charterhouse, and having completed the work has now put in for retrospective permission. Charterhouse Residents’ objection is absolutely clear: the car park has been constructed on scheduled ancient monument land; and it has raised the height of the land up against the Charterhouse wall meaning that vehicles

dominate the view from the gardens themselves. The original car park was built without planning permission, then given retrospective permission. As the residents point out, this has encouraged a pattern of poor behaviour that now compromises the historic Charterhouse lands. On top of this new car park lighting has apparently led to a higher level of light pollution until late evening.

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Co e t U i e sit e e tl a ou ed pla s to take o e fou ou il uildi gs, Ci i Ce t es o e to fou , that sta d et ee Litle Pa k St eet a d Mu h Pa k St eet. The u i e sit ould use this a ea to e pa d the u i e sit s Te h olog Pa k, hi h house a d suppo t s all, high-te h usi esses i the it . While so e ill e o e ed to see et o e e oa h e t o the it e t e the u i e sit the So iet s pa i ula o e at this i e is to see the oppe - oofed uildi gs that f o t Cou il House S ua e etai ed. The a e pa t of the post- a sto of ege e aio a d p o ide a pa i ula l i e sei g fo the Cou il House itself. It ould e a i g sha e to see ode isi st e tu uildi gs epla e the to f o t the e e tl la ds aped a ea.

Co t o e sial pla s to e o e the idge to the Ca al Basi a d edesig Ju io O e ha e ee shel ed, at least fo i e ei g, a o di g to Cou illo ‘a hel La aste , a i et e e fo pu li se i es. The e o al of the foot idge a d oui g of t ai alo g Lei este ‘o eated a up oa f o eside ts i the a ea a d hopefull so ethi g ete ill e ought fo a d pla e s fo o side aio . I the ea i e the Cou il is sill looki g fo fu ds f o Eu ope a d a o di g to Cou illo La aste , she a i ipates hea i g the out o e of fu di g ids soo . So e soo the p oposals to p o ide a su fa e ossi g to the Ca al Basi a d pla s to i ease the apa it of Ju io O e ould ell e ought to the fo e agai .

Ti e to e o e heelie i s f o Without dou t o e of the o e st eet, ut it is u pleasa t a d a halle gi g p o le s e ha e i so e of o ious haza d pa i ula l fo the the it s olde st eets a e the li es of elde l a d those ith i pai ed isio . heelie i s o the pa e e t all da e e da . A ess to the ea of these te a ed p ope ies ith o f o t ga de to speak of, is ote a lo g t udge a ou d the a k e t ies o jeies to use a lo al te . A d ith se u it gates ote a fu the o sta le it s ha dl su p isi g that the least li e of esista e is to lea e the i s o the pa e e t. Not o l does this dest o the hole e i o e t of a


the pa e e ts You o itee elie es it is i e that so ethi g is do e, e e i these i a iall dii ult i es. Co u al e li g i s si ila to those p o ided i othe iies ould e a a fo a d. A spe ial a o the st eet ith app op iate la ds api g ould p o ide sui ie t fa iliies fo a gi e u e of p ope ies. The hole st eet s e e ould e esto ed to the pleasa t e i o e t e e jo ed efo e heelie i s. The o l do side—it ould take up so e pa ki g spa e he that s al ead at a p e iu . But that s a othe halle ge.

e sta k o k sta ts Ha d o the heels of the a ou ee t of a uli- illio pou d lote g a t to help esto e Cha te house, d a i gs ha e ee issued sho i g ho e edial o k ill e a ied out o the edie al uildi gs ag ii e t hi e sta ks. The a iious s he e highlighted i the a ual epo t looks set to e the ost e ii g of p oje ts fo the it .

Contacts Postal address: 77 Craven Street, Coventry CV5 8DT Chairman’s tel: 024 7640 2030 Email: If Twitter is your thing, you can follow us at!/CovSoc We also have our own page on Facebook. You can also follow us there at

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Coventry Society Newsletter - April 2015  

The April 2015 newsletter of the Coventry Society - the Civic Society for the city of Coventry (UK).

Coventry Society Newsletter - April 2015  

The April 2015 newsletter of the Coventry Society - the Civic Society for the city of Coventry (UK).