public inquiry for several years in Coventry is under way into the controversial Phoenix
Initiative, which will carve a huge swathe through the city centre.
The City Council has already begun work on the £43 million scheme to open up a vista
from Holy Trinity Church to Hales Street and fill it with gardens, piazzas, walkways and
an innovative millennium clock.
It faces powerful opposition from big business however, notably Sainsburys, Gala Bingo
and Britannia Hotels whose premises will be affected by the grandiose plan.
The council is confident however of finding a way past their objections. Gala Bingo, in
the former Coventry Theatre building in Hales Street, is scheduled for demolition along
with the Smithfield Hotel opposite which was a favourite haunt of the actors and
entertainers appearing on stage.
Gala have lodged an objection on the grounds that they have been offered no suitable
Britannia Hotel in Fairfax Street had objected to the impact the new scheme would have
on their business, particularly when the Fairfax Street multi-storey car park is
demolished. Sainsburys have lodged a similar objection.
The Britannia Hotel however withdrew their objection at the eleventh hour in an
announcement made at the start of the inquiry.
In simple terms the Phoenix Initiative will construct Priory Place and Priory Gardens
adjacent to Holy Trinity Church, a pedestrian walkway linking the church with the motor
museum and featuring public art, a vast public square to be known as Millennium Place, a
garden of international friendship and the Millennium Clock.
The Millennium Commission will donate £10 million to the £43 million total cost of
the whole scheme. £22 million will come from private sector contribution and the City
Council will find £11 million.
The City Council has already started work at the Holy Trinity end of the project and
dare not contemplate losing the public inquiry which is held by a Government inspector and
is scheduled to last four days.