Today the Coventry Society submitted a petition to the City Council to save the Coventry Cross. Over 780 people in the city have said No to the Council’s plans to move the Cross to make way for the outdoor smoking area for a new city restaurant. The petition is seen here being handed over to Cllr. Roger Bailey, who will formally present it to the City Council.
Last month the Coventry Society received backing for its campaign from national organisation Civic Voice, which is concerned about the damage to Conservation Areas up and down the country and in particular to the loss of Conservation Officers who can advise councils on the proper conservation of historic assets. Civic Voice pointed out that the Hill Top Conservation Area was designated by the Government as one of the foremost Conservation Areas in the country.
The latest stage in the saga is that Shearers, acting for the restaurant, have made a planning application for: “Redevelopment of Trinity Square comprising of the removal and re-location of the Coventry Cross, the redesign of the public space area and reconfiguration of the existing rear terrace to facilitate a larger seating area in connection with the existing restaurant”.
As with the previous planning application, this one gives no justification for the demolition of the cross. All planning applications in Conservation Areas are required to be accompanied by what is called a Heritage Statement. This should explain how the Conservation Area is enhanced by the development. No such statement exists! The Council’s own Management Plan for the Conservation Area states clearly that public art works that enhance the Conservation Area should be retained and that demolition of any structure is only permitted where it enhances the area.
The Coventry Society asks “Why is the Council violating its own policy and normal planning practice?”
Paul Maddocks, Chair of the Coventry Society said: “We would expect the Council to listen to the considerable numbers of Coventry Citizens who have expressed their displeasure with the Council’s scheme to spoil one of the heritage features of the city’s premier conservation. We ask them to re-think their unacceptable plans. The Council has found £150,000 to demolish and remove the Cross. Surely a better plan is to use the funding to restore and enhance this monumental link with the city’s colourful history. Coventry Society would like to see the Cross cleaned up, the missing parts re-installed, gilded like the original cross, and made into a stunning tourist attraction fit for a city of culture.”
Yesterday we also learned that Coventry Trades Union Council has also backed our call for the Coventry Cross to be saved.