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[16 OCT 98]  POLITICS NEWS
Councillors Approve Phoenix Initaitive

City councillors have approved the Phoenix Initiative, Coventry’s 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 Ring Road.

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 don’t anticipate that he will want to intervene and we should hear his decision within the next four weeks."

He added:

"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.

"We’re still very confident that the project will be completed by the autumn of 2001."

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 isn’t 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."
    

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CWN / Politics / 16 Oct 98 / Councillors Approve Phoenix Initaitive

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