For well over 50 years, between the 1920s and the 1970s, the skyline of the north of Coventry was dominated by two major power generation facilities, Longford Gas Works to the west of Foleshill Rd. / Longford Rd. and Coventry Power Station, between Aldermans Green Rd. and Hawkesbury Junction. The tall chimneys, cooling towers, coal conveyors and gas holders were visible for miles around.
Both facilities were decommissioned in the 1970s and after many years of lying vacant, the Gas Works was re-developed and the site is now occupied by the Arena Park Shopping Centre and Ricoh Arena. However, the future of the Power Station site still remains unresolved. After standing vacant for some years, the Power Station was demolished and in the 1980s and early 90’s the site was used as a tip site for a variety of materials. The tipping formed a significant hill and when the operation closed the area was landscaped and planted with trees.
The intention was that when the tipping at the Power Station ended, the site should be landscaped and handed over to the City Council to be used as open space and a mini country park linking Hawkesbury junction and Aldermans Green Rd., however for a variety of reasons, that never happened and the land was left to develop naturally into a wild open space / conservation area. The land was designated as green belt at that time.
For over a decade, nothing happened to the land. Around 2014, the site’s then owners started to put together proposals over which there was widespread consultation with the local community. Eventually planning permission was granted for a large marina, a limited amount of enabling development and the retention of a large part of the site as open space / parkland. However, the development never proved to be financially viable and the planning application lapsed.
Fast forward to 2020 and a group of Cheshire based developers represented by Johnson Mowatt Planning have now held a lightening 7 day consultation with local residents, circulating leaflets very locally around the site asking for views on the development of the land. Following the token consultation they intend to submit an outline planning application. The developer’s proposals in the leaflet manage to ignore irritating little details such as landform, contamination, site stability, access problems, the amenity value of the site, the wildlife value of the site, the value of the site to the local community…….etc.
The site is undoubtedly very difficult to develop, which is almost certainly why the previous planning application was never implemented. The key issue is that following tipping, the site was shaped, contoured and landscaped to provide an area of open space, very specifically not to provide a development site. It does beg the question as to why the City Council subsequently agreed to the site being included in the Local Plan as a mixed – use site, which it clearly is not suited to be.
Residents and the local community now wait with a degree of resignation for the arrival of a planning application. Residents in this part of the city, particularly those around the Hawkesbury Junction area, straddling the boundary between Coventry and Nuneaton and Bedworth feel under siege from developers. In Coventry the development of 100+ houses on the Grange Farm site in Grange Rd. is nearing completion. In Nuneaton and Bedworth there is a major Local Plan proposal for several hundred houses on the site of the former Hawkesbury Golf Course, with an initial application for 200+ now under consideration and now there is a sketch scheme for the former Power Station site proposing another 150 or so houses. The three sites are all within half a mile of each other. Not only will the development have a very significant impact on the relatively isolated Hawkesbury Community, but it will also have a major impact on the local road network which has hardly changed in the last 50 years and which is struggling to cope with the traffic from existing development let alone several hundred more houses now in the pipeline.
We’ll keep you informed as the saga develops.