Green light for huge £390m homes, shops and restaurant scheme in Coventry City Centre South

Green light for huge m homes shops and restaurant scheme in Coventry City Centre South
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A major homes, shops and restaurants scheme in Coventry – dubbed the “missing part of our city’s rebirth and regeneration” – has been unanimously approved.

Shearer Property Group’s vision for ‘City Centre South’ was given the green light by councillors on Coventry’s planning committee on Thursday, April 22.

Outline approval for the long-drawn-out scheme has been given for up to 1,300 homes, up to 150 hotel rooms, a cinema, restaurants and commercial space.

Plans were initially approved in 2012, with an ‘anchor department store’ at the heart of the 6.36 hectare plot, but it has been massively delayed, with challenges in retail leading to a more residential focus.

“Clearly City Centre South has been on the starting blocks for over 10 years,” cabinet member for jobs and regeneration Cllr Jim O’Boyle said.

“Now’s the time to really set the gun, press the on button and get on with this.

“This application will be transformational. It will take our city from the 20th century to the 21st century and makes our city fit for the future while building and reflecting on our great heritage and past.”

A CGI image showing how the revised City Centre South scheme will look
A CGI image showing how the revised City Centre South scheme will look

One big criticism of the scheme was the provision of no affordable housing. Under council policy, 325 affordable homes should have been included.

Trevor Cornfoot, a member of the Coventry Society, slammed it as a failure which “flies in the face” of the £98.8m public investment the scheme has received from the West Midlands Combined Authority.

A financial viability assessment also concluded the plan is “technically unviable” as the £390m cost to develop it is more than the £297m estimated value after completion.

But Cllr O’Boyle insisted the unviablity was not an issue given it was carried out during a pandemic, promising there will be affordable housing further down the line.

He said: “I am absolutely clear and I know the developer is clear that we will deliver and will hold the developers deep to the fire, there will be affordable housing as part of the scheme.”

Martin Yardley, a former deputy chief executive at the council speaking on behalf of Shearer, backed up that view.

He said the scheme will bring jobs to Coventry – up to 508 jobs during construction and up to 2,000 within the scheme.

He added: “The result of this new approach to the city centre is a flexible residential-led scheme that will bring back jobs, homes and re-establish Coventry city centre to what our city centre’s once were before the advent of the big retail schemes that we see struggling so much today.”

Councillors unanimously supported the plans with one, Cllr Allan Andrews, hailing it as “incredibly exciting”.

“It has been a long time coming. I’m going to vote for this enthusiastically,” he said.

“It is time to be bold and brave and frankly it’s time to get on with it and deliver the scheme as everyone I’m sure is sick of talking about it.”

Full permission was approved for works to remove the bridge link between the Grade II-listed Coventry Market rooftop car park and existing retail units on Market Way, as well as the relocation of the of Grade-II listed William Mitchell mural from the former Three Tuns Pub – issues which led to objections from the 20th Century Society and Ancient Monuments Society.

Planning officer Liam D’Onofrio admitted there would be substantial harm to the mural but that “substantial public benefits” outweigh the harm.

Outline permission was approved to demolish buildings within the site area including the “eyesore” Barracks Way and City Arcade multi-storey car parks, allowing the new plans to go forward.

Further viability tests will be carried out as reserved matters applications come forward, which will provide detailed design plans.