Planning Awards shortlisted – Coventry City Council

Coventry’s innovative partnership to breathe new life into some of the city’s most important historic buildings has been shortlisted for a national award.

The Historic Coventry 2021 Programme has been shortlisted in the 2022 Planning Awards’ best use of heritage in the placemaking category. The initiative being delivered by Historic Coventry Trust in partnership with Coventry City Council has accelerated plans to restore the city’s heritage to celebrate the year as UK City of Culture.

The programme will be competing against individual projects at Rugby Radio Station, Battersea Power Station and the Horlicks Quarter in Slough at the awards ceremony which will take place at the Mermaid Theatre in London on Thursday, June 9.

The Historic Coventry 2021 Programme for the Planning Awards focuses on a series of restoration projects which were completed in 2021/22.

These include:

  • The restoration of The Burges and Hales Street Conservation Area as the Government’s national demonstrator project for its Historic High Streets programme
  • The Grade I listed and Scheduled Monument at The Charterhouse which includes some of the most important medieval and Elizabethan art in the country, 400m of monastic walls, coach house and extensive gardens
  • The two remaining city gates and surviving section of city wall dating from 1385-1440
  • Joseph Paxton’s Arboretum Cemetery at London Road which opened in 1847 and is one of the top five cemeteries in the UK which is listed Grade I as well as the restoration of the Grade II listed Anglican Chapel
  • The timber-framed Lychgate Cottages in Priory Row dating from 1415 and the only remaining buildings from Lady Godiva’s Benedictine cathedral precinct of St Mary (Grade II*)
  • The Guild Hall of the Coventry Drapers, the city’s finest Georgian building, built as performance rooms from 1832 onwards with remarkably intact original interiors (Grade II*)

Ian Harrabin, chairman of Historic Coventry Trust, said it was wonderful to be shortlisted for the national awards for reuse of heritage, which reflected recognition that these largely forgotten buildings have such an important part to play in the city’s economy.

He said: “The trust was initially set up to restore Charterhouse, but we recognised that there was so much more that could be done to capitalise on UK City of Culture and boost the visitor economy.

“This is an extraordinary programme of restoration and reinvention with the partnership delivering multiple projects at the same time and raising over £28 million in funding.

“Historic Coventry Trust has been creative in bringing new use to old buildings, with a balance of income generating properties sustaining those with a more social or community focus.

“The High Street Demonstrator project at The Burges has totally transformed 21 retail properties in this run-down medieval street on the edge of the city centre and has sparked planned private investment on two adjoining sites of £15 million, creating 80 flats.

“Drapers’ Hall has been restored as the home for music education for schoolchildren with an outstanding music performance, and community and business venue operated by Historic Coventry Trust.

“Together The Charterhouse and Cemetery will be an exceptional visitor attraction to boost the tourist economy but will also create an outstanding community resource with 70 acres of woodland, wetland, parks and gardens and a new restaurant and café will bring Michelin-star dining to the city. The chapel is multi-use from community events to music performances and film screenings.

“The Gates and Cottages are special visitor accommodation to boost the high-end visitor economy and changing image of Coventry.

“Our entrepreneurial model is seen as a partnership blueprint for how heritage charities can play their part in the re-imagining of places, and the programme was recently cited as best practice in the Government’s Levelling Up White Paper.”

Cllr Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs, Regeneration and Climate Change at Coventry City Council, said: “The proof of the success of this model is clear for all to see. I could see the potential when we decided, some years ago now, to work with Historic Coventry Trust to secure the investment and harness the passion needed to bring these tired and neglected buildings back to life for local people and visitors to enjoy.

“Drapers’ Hall, Charterhouse and our fine city gates and cottages are now one of the many jewels in our crown. They have been a real boost for tourism in the city and it is credit to everyone that they have been shortlisted for this award.”

Cllr David Welsh, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Heritage at Coventry City Council, added: “Historic Coventry Trust has done a remarkable job in turning these buildings into real assets for Coventry. 

“Venues like Lychgate Cottages and Drapers’ Hall look amazing. The detailed restoration work is excellent and together with the Council and funders, the Trust is breathing new life into many areas and buildings that were previously under used or unused in the city.

“This is vitally important partnership work that has generated extensive external funding too. The best thing for me is that so many of the local community of all ages will get to enjoy many of the completed schemes.”


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