Scheme to open up Coventry riverside

The developer behind the regeneration of Far Gosford Street in Coventry says a similar scheme could restore the historic area around The Burgess and Palmer Lane and open up the city’s river.

Ian Harrabin, of Complex Development Projects (CDP), who is also Chairman of the trust that recently secured £4.7 million from Heritage Lottery for the first phase of the Charterhouse Heritage Park, is working up ideas to present to Coventry City Council for the regeneration of the area bordered by Hales Street and The Burgess with the river at its heart.

CDP already owns property that is currently built over the Sherbourne which would be demolished to create public terraces on the river edge.

CDP produced plans to develop the area a few years ago but these did not come to fruition due to the property market slowdown.

Harrabin is now convinced that the time is right to start work on an initiative to deliver the regeneration of this recently created Conservation Area as a follow on from the completion of Far Gosford Street, and will be taking the plans to the MIPIM property show next month where he is part of the Coventry and Warwickshire MIPIM Partnership.

“This is one of the most historic areas of the city but is in a very run down state,” he said.  “The Burges is the medieval street to the north and there are still remnants of the original medieval buildings remaining.  The river already makes a very brief appearance and we want to extend the area of open river and allow people to get close to the water with outdoor seating terraces.

“The Far Gosford Street Partnership has built up an excellent track record in delivering wholesale regeneration of this historic street, working with building owners to improve their properties with grants from Heritage Lottery and ERDF.

“This would be the perfect approach for the regeneration of The Burgess area and there is a danger that if we don’t start working on a follow on project now, the expertise will be lost.

“The area is already seeing considerable improvement with the fantastic work underway by the Transport Museum to restore the Old Grammar School which dates back to the 1200s. The museum is one of Coventry’s premier tourist destinations, yet the area around it currently doesn’t add to the tourist experience.  It’s all there – historic buildings and the river – but it needs a comprehensive approach and public investment to bring about the area’s regeneration.

“The river was once the life blood of this city, its reason for being, and to understand the city’s history you need to be able to see the river.  Very few opportunities exist to bring it back to the surface in the city centre and this location with an historic building adjoining it is a unique asset that’s currently being wasted.”

Councillor Rachel Lancaster, cabinet member for public services said: “We know how well loved the river Sherbourne is.  We value it highly and if possible I would love to open up the culvert in and around Palmer Lane to expose the river once again.   Water provides a focal point in towns and cities and increasingly it is being used to support regeneration.”