A site in Coventry city centre is again under threat only six months after developers were persuaded to withdraw their unsuitable planning application. The site, adjoining Greyfriars Green Conservation Area, includes a characterful 1960s office block and the only two remaining late Victorian villas that were once part of a row fronting the green.
The proposed development includes two blocks of student flats, one of which is fourteen storeys and the other twelve. There are 496 student flats aimed at more affluent foreign students at Warwick University.
The draft response of the Coventry Society is as follows:
“The Coventry Society objects to the wholesale demolition of these worthy buildings. They are adjacent to the Greyfriars Green Conservation Area and a number of listed buildings.
We would like to see the original parts of nos. 25 and 29 retained in any redevelopment. We would not object to new development between and behind 25 and 29 providing it is in keeping with the existing frontages and the elegant terrace along the Quadrant, and providing any infill is set back to retain the prominence of the existing buildings.
“We would also like to retain no. 23 Bank house, as it is a good example of the post-war reconstruction of Coventry, but would accept the loss of that building if 25 and 29 can be saved.
“The Heritage Statement attempts to play down the value of the existing buildings. It was written by out-of-town consultants who clearly have no sympathy with the city, and it repeatedly makes false statements.
“Much of the city’s built heritage has been lost through post-war redevelopment. Continuing attrition of worthy buildings has been allowed on the valid principle that the city needs investment and jobs. However, there should be a balance between encouraging investment and preserving buildings of value. We believe that the city council should stand up against unsympathetic development that is driven purely by the quest for profit from off-shore companies. 25 and 29 Warwick Road are prominent parts of the pleasant Warwick Road/Warwick Row street scene and should not be sacrificed.
“We would particularly like the Warwick Road elevation to have only pitched slate roofs.
“We do not support curved elevations that are foreign to the locality. We suggest instead for the elevations to be faceted, i.e. a series of flat facades at slightly different angles to mimic the original piecemeal building development.
“The plans claim the narrow footpath that is part of the highway at Manor House Drive, as part of the site. The highway is owned by Coventry City Council so they should be notified under the application form certificate B. Gates and doors must not open onto the highway, and the footway needs to be retained for the large number of residents proposed. The plans also claim the footway on Warwick Road as part of the site while it is part of the highway.
“Parking is proposed on the application form but is not shown on the plans, unless the small lay-by shown on Warwick Road on the landscape plan is meant to serve that function. There is no proposed site plan as such. While students are assumed not to have cars, there will be visitors in cars such as parents and tradesmen. The situation will be unmanageable when a large number of parents are dropping off/picking up their offspring at the start and end of each semester.
“There appears to be vehicular access from Warwick Road but no space to turn on site. It will not be satisfactory for vehicles to have to reverse across Warwick Road. There should parking on site, accessed from Manor House Drive.
“The proposed loss of trees on the northern and western boundaries is unnecessary. They should be retained.
“The Retention of Buildings document claims ‘Significant remodelling of the external levels to both building frontages to provide at grade access for all.’ That is not true. There are already ramped entrances at the front of 25 and 29, and further level entry could be provided at the rear if required. The proposal has multiple ground floor levels so the applicant must be confident of providing step-free passage through the site.
“Retaining the front parts of 25 and 29 will add a lot of character to the overall development, while the submitted scheme would be just another large student block and incongruous with the adjacent conservation area.
“The existing floor plans seem to lend themselves to student rooms back and front, with the small middle rooms used as ensuite shower rooms without windows. The rear extensions are of little merit and can be demolished.
“The current application is an improvement on the one in 2019 that was withdrawn, but is still not acceptable and should be refused.
“A satisfactory solution can be found if the developer is willing to respect the city he wants to build in”
Members of the public are encouraged to make their own comments on the application, which can be accessed here. Please look at the plans before making your online comments. The deadline for comments is 19th March 2020.