Stop relying on the Big Boys!

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It might be a long-held ambition to build the City Centre South scheme on land currently occupied by Bull Yard, Shelton Square, the City Arcade and Hertford Street but judging by the lack of interest among multi-national companies (highlighted in last Thursday’s weekly paper), isn’t it time to come up with a better plan? Businesses that have traded there for years need a secure future and surely a new face for these perfectly adequate buildings could and should continue to benefit traders and shoppers alike. The scale is right. Car parking on top of the shops is still a revolutionary concept that’s stood the test of time. Rent can be maintained at a sensible level.

New builds inevitably attract exorbitant sums. More than thirty traders have suffered the insecurity of tenure for years. How fair is that? Just look how the area has been allowed to run-down. We need a new vision. One that can be made a reality well in time for City of Culture 2021. It’s high time we saw some small wins in the city centre rather than kidding us along that the grandiose ambitions of multi-nationals can be realised.

Cabinet member for jobs and regeneration Jim O’Boyle recognising there is a downturn in the retail sector across the country said: “Negotiations between the developer Shearer Property Group and potential investors is taking more time than envisaged.” The truth: the City Centre South scheme has been on the stocks since 2012 – for more than SIX years.

Anyone with an ounce of imagination might surely realise the potential for a re-vamped quarter of small speciality businesses. Here they are established and trading well with a loyal customer base. What does Cllr O’Boyle want to do? Throw them out to turn the land over to this apparently unreachable massive new development for the ‘Big Boys’. Does it make sense? Of course not. It’s a great pity that important decision makers like Cllr O’Boyle don’t have a retail background. He might take a more realistic approach to the dilemma of City Centre South. So come on, time to get round the table and start talking to locals for a change.

Read more about the current state of City Centre South in the Coventry Observer.

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