councillors have approved the Phoenix Initiative, Coventrys millennium project to
redevelop the city centre. The £40 million scheme received unanimous support at
yesterdays planning committee meeting.
The scheme, which will be the largest construction programme since the city centre was
rebuilt after the wartime blitz, will now need the approval of the Secretary of State
before work begins.
But City councillors are confident that the project will remain on target for
completion in autumn 2001.
The scheme involves demolishing dozens of buildings in the Hales Street area to make
way for squares and piazzas stretching from the Cathedral to Cook Street Gate by the Inner
Chris Beck, project director of the Phoenix Initiative said:
"This is a very exciting time for Coventry. We took a major step forward yesterday
and now hope that the Secretary of State will now give his approval to our plans. We
dont anticipate that he will want to intervene and we should hear his decision
within the next four weeks."
"The next step will be to obtain compulsory purchase orders for the buildings we
need to demolish. We will then need to set up a public enquiry, which should take around
12 months to complete.
"Were still very confident that the project will be completed by the autumn
In the mean time archaeological work will begin to uncover the remains of the 8th
century Benedictine Priory by Holy Trinity Church and the new Cathedral.
There has been some opposition to the proposed demolition of the former Hippodrome
Theatre and the Smithfield Hotel.
Mr Beck added:
"I can understand that some local people have fond memories of nights out at the
Hippodrome, but that isnt a strong enough reason for keeping it. Even English
Heritage feels that the building is of no architectural merit.
"I think it is perhaps difficult for people at the moment to visualise how good it
will look when the work has been completed."