Coventry’s Heritage Action Zone initiative is working to unleash the power in Coventry’s historic environment to create economic growth and improve quality of life in the city. Working with local people and partners, including the City Council, Historic England is helping to breathe new life into old places that are rich in heritage and full of promise – unlocking their potential and making them more attractive to residents, businesses, tourists and investors. They are doing this through joint-working, grant funding and sharing their skills.
One of the recent outputs from the Heritage Action Zone is the publication of a Historic Area Assessment of the city centre. A photographic archive was produced of places and structures relevant to the City of Coventry’s history. The report outlines the City’s heritage and the distinctive character of the city centre’s historic townscape, encompassing the legacies of Coventry’s history as a major medieval town, a booming industrial powerhouse, a centre of innovation in post-war redevelopment and as a city of rich cultural heritage.
The report provides a Statement of Significance for the city centre, in both national and international contexts; an historical overview of the centre’s development; a detailed description of components of local townscape character including topography and urban form, forms of historic development, historic open spaces, public artwork, views and landmarks, and the centre’s relationship with its surroundings.
The Coventry City Centre Historic Area Assessment provides an evidence base for the centre’s historic environment which can be used to understand what defines the heritage significance of the city centre, identify the architectural, historic, artistic and archaeological interest of the city centre’s heritage assets, understand the distinctive historic character and appearance of the centre and how the legacies of the past continue to contribute to the modern townscape, and highlight issues and opportunities for change for the centre’s historic environment and heritage assets.
The report highlight issues and opportunities for change for the city centre’s historic environment and heritage assets. This understanding can be used to achieve more informed management of Coventry’s heritage. It can assist planners, property owners, developers, heritage specialists, local communities and others in shaping a sustainable future for the city centre. It celebrates the city centre’s distinctive sense of place which is composed of people, stories, spaces and buildings that embrace a legacy of centuries of growth, change and prosperity. It capitalises on existing and potential roles that heritage plays in the city centre, ensuring it plays active roles in Coventry’s social, economic and environmental future.
Coventry’s significance as a medieval city is manifest in some of the finest examples of surviving medieval architecture in the country. Examples include monumental ecclesiastical landmarks, legacies of a prosperous mercantile class, remnants of the city’s defences, relics of manorial land ownership and an outstanding collection of vernacular timber-framed buildings.
Medieval myths and legends remain central to Coventry’s cultural identity, celebrated within modern public artwork. The city centre is host to medieval art, archaeology and archives of international significance. Coventry enjoys a status as a medieval city of national significance, albeit one that is relatively unsung.
Although a comprehensive and technical document, the report is eminently readable and is free to download here.