Coventry City Council and Coventry University today signed an agreement which could lead to the radical transformation of a large part of the city centre.
The two organisations have agreed a 12-month exclusivity deal to allow the University to bring forward plans to redevelop an area currently occupied by four major council buildings – which will be vacated by the authority’s move to the Friargate scheme.
The buildings involved – Civic Centres 1-4 – stand between Little Park Street and Much Park Street .
The council is due to move to a new purpose-built headquarters at Coventry railway station by 2017.
The University, which holds the accolade of The Times and Sunday Times Modern University of the Year, currently occupies 33-acres in the city centre. It will now work up a masterplan for the site to complement its main campus and technology park.
No price has yet been placed on the deal which was announced at the MIPIM international property exhibition, but the University will present its plans and a commercial proposition within the next 12 months.
Councillor Ann Lucas, leader of Coventry City Council, said the agreement was another sign that the council was determined to help bring a full and radical transformation of the city centre.
She said: “Our move to a new centre is designed not only to give our staff suitable, modern and efficient accommodation but also to help kick-start what is a vital scheme for the future of the city, and one which we are confident will bring investment and jobs.
“But that is only half of the story. We want to ensure that our move allows a similarly forward-thinking redevelopment of our existing site and making sure that the redevelopment of this site ties into the plans for Friargate and City Centre South.
“The University brings vitality, energy and investment to the city centre and we have been talking with them about plans for our current site for several months to expand their highly successful technology park.
“We think there is great potential in the University’s proposition, and we feel it is key that time is given to turning those plans into a tangible and workable proposition. Again we want to enable development which will lead to growth, jobs and investment and also generate an income which can be recycled into the city.
“With work on Friargate about to start and plans for City Centre South progressing well, this is a time of real potential – and it is a potential we intend to maximise for the good of the city.”
The university will spend the next 12 months master planning the area – including what buildings would be needed for the development.
David Soutter, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Coventry University, said: “This is in the very early days but the agreement will allow us to explore some very exciting possibilities for that area. Our initial thoughts include creating another phase of our Technology Park, which has proved highly successful.
“We can certainly see potential in creating suitable accommodation for small and high-tech companies which will either grow from within the University, or will be attracted to the site to take advantage of the research and development skills of our staff and students.
“Not only will that help attract investment it will act as a magnet for companies with real growth potential, who would stay and grow in the city and contribute positively to the local and regional economy.
“Our success in growing our research and international activities, but also our vocational courses, means that we do need to expand the campus.
“We have made a number of significant improvements to our campus in recent years with the development of several new cutting-edge buildings and as this area is adjacent to us, it makes perfect sense to examine all the possibilities.”