Green Belt Fight Goes to Court

Arden Landscape at Eastern Green

The campaign to save the former green belt in Eastern Green from development has moved into the courts.  Local Campaigners together with the Campaign to Protect Rural England Warwickshire are taking Coventry City Council to court to challenge a recent planning decision that has given the go-ahead for housing development in the area.

Campaigners state “The beautiful Warwickshire countryside, all around Coventry, is in grave danger of being covered over with thousands of houses – at Kings Hill, Eastern Green, Keresley, Allesley, Cromwell Lane, Westwood Heath, and more. Our green lungs and farmland are at risk. During the 2016 Local Plan process Coventry Council took this land out of Green Belt, and allocated it for housing, on the basis of population figures now being questioned by the Office of Statistics Regulation. We are monitoring the OSR very closely and will use the reports to influence future housing policy.

“In June Coventry granted planning consent for mixed use housing at Eastern Green and urgent action is now needed to fund legal proceedings to halt development from proceeding. The claim was brought by The Campaign to Protect Rural England Warwickshire.

“Our legal team has framed the case as a fundamental issue that goes to the heart of the question of housing growth in our region. If we have to lose Green Belt to meet housing needs, then new housing must deliver housing to meet local needs. Seems obvious but when approving the Eastern Green consent, Coventry City Council failed to ask that question and failed to condition the consent to ensure the development delivers housing suitable for our population. That failure puts more Green Belt land at risk as developers deliver unaffordable “executive” housing just creating more pressure to release even more Green Belt.

“With the national news on 15 July about a possible Giga battery factory in Coventry what is needed is homes to meet the population needs not large executive homes that are unaffordable to most and which cannot provide housing to bring the jobs to Coventry.”

Campaigners feel that this is their last chance “We have tried everything: petitions, articles in the press, marches, radio, TV, lobbying MPs and the government. This is our last chance. So we need your help to fund the legal proceedings.

“If you feel as we do, as local residents, that this development should only proceed in a manner that ensures that, if we have to lose the Green Belt, then we need to ensure that homes are built to meet local needs… Then PLEASE make your feelings known and contribute to our crowdfunding page.”

A crowdfunding page has been set up at https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/save-our-green-belt-coventry/

You can also post a cheque, made out to CPRE Warwickshire, to CPRE, 41a Smith St, Warwick, CV34 4JA. If you give an address or email they will send a Gift Aid form. Mark your cheque for ‘Judicial Review’.

“We need to raise £13,000 by 10am on 7 August 21, but this could rise to £50,000 to complete the case. All donations, small or large, will really help. Please send this on to anyone else who may feel as passionately as we do.”

The campaigners have clarified that the judicial review is for the Hallam Land application for 2400 homes at Eastern Green. However, if it succeeds, it will help other cases, all round the city.

The legal case argues that the Officer’s Report on the planning application was significantly misleading, and the Council erred in law, because the Council granted the Permission with no condition controlling the housing mix. The Planning Committee was significantly misled as they were told at the meeting that the Interested Parties had assessed the cumulative effect of development outside the boundaries of the Coventry Local Plan (2016) (“CLP”) when assessing the highways impact of the Development

In relation to the chances of raising the necessary funding, campaigners state “More than 20,000 people have signed our petitions. If they all gave just £10, it would raise £200,000 which gives you an idea of what can be possible. The fundraising has started well.”

Financial pledges will only be collected if and when the initial target of £13,000 is met by 10 AM on 7 Aug 2021. As of 27th July a total of £12,630 had been raised via the website.  The money will go to the Campaign to Protect Rural England Warwickshire Branch who are bringing the case. They are a long established local Charity reg 1092486, with offices in Warwick.

More information:

https://www.coventrygreenbelt.org – Keep Our Green Belt Green, [KOGG]

https://www.cprewarwickshire.org.uk – CPRE Warwickshire

Contact office@cprewarwickshire.org.uk

The Salvation Army and Coventry’s Role in its History

CovSoc member Peter James tells the little-known story of Coventry’s links with the early Salvation Army movement.

William Booth preaching to his followers

William Booth was born in Nottingham on 10th April 1829. He became a Methodist preacher and later founded the Christian Mission in 1865. The venue used was outside the front of the Blind Beggar pub in Whitechapel in London’s east end. This is where Ronnie Kray murdered George Cornell and it was at one time owned by Bobby Moore the famous footballer.

The Christian Mission was renamed and rebranded the Salvation Army in 1878. The inaugural meeting was on 17th February at the Theatre Royal in Coventry. William Booth led a procession into the town centre witnessed by up to 5000 people. Booth then sent Captain Catherine Reynolds and Honour Burrell to Coventry to manage the corps there.

Amos Shirley was born in Foleshill in 1839 and was brought up in Lockhurst Lane and later in Paradise Row. He became a silk weaver and married a local girl Annie Allen. Their only child Eliza was born there on 9th October 1862.

After attending a few meetings of the Salvation Army, Eliza was converted. By this time her father Amos had become a part time minister, Eliza used to read his sermons and try to memorise them. At an outdoor meeting in September 1878 she stood on a chair and spoke of her conversion. William Booth was there and heard her and was amazed to discover she was only 15. Aged 16 she joined the corps and was posted to Bishop Auckland where she met Captain Annie Allsop. The petite young women soon made an impact converting even the worst men.

Eliza Shirley, Salvation Army Pioneer

Eliza’s father Amos left England for Philadelphia where he found employment as a foreman in a silk mill. He wrote to her describing America as a fine country but with some wicked inhabitants. Would she consider joining him and starting an organisation similar to the Salvation Army? When she spoke to General William Booth he was extremely reluctant explaining that there was enough work saving souls in England. Eventually he relented and Eliza along with her mother Annie sailed to Philadelphia.

Annie decided to help Eliza who quickly found a meeting venue in Oxford Street Philadelphia. The site was a former furniture factory with many broken windows and a leaky roof. Their first meeting only attracted 12 people and over the next few weeks they suffered much verbal and physical abuse. After about a month they got lucky, some young boys set fire to tar barrels near their lot. It attracted the fire brigade and a large crowd. The Shirleys began to sing and preach and made their first convert, a drunk called Reddy.

Eventually their meetings were attended by hundreds of people so William Booth sent George Railton Scott with a number of Hallelujah Lasses to the U.S.. Scott became the first Salvation Army commissioner there.

So in summary, in 1878 the Salvation Army was founded in Coventry. Then in 1879 Eliza Shirley a seventeen year old from Coventry established the first corps of the Salvation Army in the U.S.A.

Council Adopts New Local Development Scheme

The City Council’s Cabinet has published its plans for the review of the local plans for the city and the production of new Supplementary Planning documents.

The Cabinet has approved a new Local Development Scheme. This is a legal requirement that sets out the council‘s project plan for its preparation of local plans and other policy documents.

The new LDS runs until December 2022 to cover the period leading up to the requirement to review the two Local Plans. The LDS will then be updated.

The LDS sets out the timetable and stages for reviewing Coventry Local Plan and the City Centre Area Action Plan. These have to be reviewed by 2022 and the process includes the following stages:

  • Review the adopted policies to consider whether they continue to comply with national policy;
  • Publish a revised Local Development Scheme;
  • Undertake an assessment of Brownfield Site capacity;
  • Produce an updated Annual Monitoring report and development trajectory to illustrate how current policy is performing against targets set out in the adopted plans;
  • Refresh the database of brownfield sites to assess whether there are any which need adding to the database;
  • Undertake initial scoping including updating key evidence to assess whether anything has changed which might mean policies and strategies need updating, including analysis of student accommodation demand and need;
  • Consider the emerging results of the most recent Census (2021) and implications of these;
  • In the light of the above, complete a review of the plan no later than November 2022 to determine whether policies need updating

The document also sets out the timetable for producing other supplementary planning documents. These are:

  • Open Space
  • Affordable Housing
  • Energy
  • Tall Buildings (city centre focus)
  • Biodiversity
  • Residential Design

Picturing our High Street

A photographic residency has been announced for Coventry’s High Streets Heritage Action Zone in Burges / Hales Street.

The residency is part of a national programme led by Historic England and covering four cities that have High Street Heritage Action Zones (Coventry, Stoke-on-Trent, Chester and Prescot). The project entitled “Picturing England’s High Streets”, is a three-year project and is part of the national cultural programme for High Street Heritage Action Zones.

The photographer in residence will use a ‘socially-engaged’ approach, working alongside local communities, to create a contemporary portrait of England’s high streets between now and 2024. Starting immediately, the photographer-in-residence will work with local people to reimagine the high street, producing images which will become part of the Historic England Archive.

Coventry’s artist is Tim Mills, who will be working with GRAIN Projects in Coventry and local partners the Historic Coventry Trust, Culture Coventry, Coventry University, Coventry City Council and Coventry City of Culture Trust.

Tim said “From the stories of my Dad’s red velvet wedding suit purchased on the Burges, my Mum’s performances at The Coventry Theatre on Hales Street, to my Aunt providing blindfolded mystery tours of the city in a wheelbarrow during the 1950’s, Coventry has always been central to my family’s history. My work explores photographic archives, memory, community and place and what that means for our future, so I am thrilled by the creative potential of this project during a significant moment for the city.”

Tim Mills (Photo Copyright: Cassie Chadderton)

Tim Mills is a photographic practitioner and curator based in Birmingham. He uses photography and reappropriated archive material to explore and engage with communities and place. His work is often presented as installations within public contexts and outdoor locations. Tim holds an MA with distinction in Photography from Plymouth University and a BA with first-class honours in Photography from the Falmouth College of Art. He has previously worked at Magnum Photos New York; The Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival in Toronto; The Atlantic Project – a pilot for an international festival of contemporary art in the Southwest of England; and as a curator within the contemporary art team at The Box Plymouth.

Draper’s Hall Comes Back to Life

Last week CovSoc members were treated to a tour of the ongoing re-vamping of Draper’s Hall, courtesy of Historic Coventry Trust.

The restoration of this historic and interesting building is progressing well with most of the structural work completed and services and utilities installed and operative.  Most of the ceilings were complete but walls and floors were awaiting decorative treatment.  There is a new stair free entrance at the front corner of the building and a lift for mobility limited people to the upper floor as well as new toilets and other facilities.

The Grade II* listed Drapers’ Hall is one of the few Regency buildings in the city and was built in 1831-2 as the headquarters of the Coventry Drapers’ Guild.

The current building is the third Drapers’ Hall on the site, replacing the previous medieval and post-medieval buildings which the wealthy Guild of Drapers constructed as places to do business, to socialise and to hold events. Interestingly some of the remains of older buildings could be seen in the basement areas. The Draper’s Guild still exists and has promised to return some of the original furniture to the building. Unfortunately the original chandeliers, which still exist in an antique shop in London, cannot be afforded at the moment.

An interesting feature, possibly from an earlier building on the site.

Designed by Thomas Rickman and H W Hutchinson, the current building is in Greek Revival style and consists of a series of grand ceremonial spaces lit by rooflights: a Ballroom, Tea Room and Reading Room. Each of these has decorative plaster ceilings and chimneypieces. In the basement the original kitchens, plate store, wine store and sculleries survive with all their fittings. Parts of the basement were also used as air raid shelters in both World Wars.

The building was last used as a youth magistrates’ court over 30 years ago. Working with The Princes’ Foundation, Historic Coventry Trust is restoring the building as a home for Coventry Music Service and a music and events venue. It is anticipated that there will be weekly concerts in the building. Offices for the Coventry Music Service are ready for occupation.

The Ballroom being restored to its original glory.

This project is supported by funding from Alan Edward Higgs Charity, Arts Council England, Coventry City Council Cultural Capital Fund, Coventry Drapers, Foyle Foundation, Garfield Weston, London Drapers, The Prince’s Foundation, Swire Charitable Trust and Wolfson Foundation.

When work is complete the building will be managed by Historic Coventry Trust and The Hall’s grand and historic spaces will be available for hire.

Further visits to Draper’s Hall are planned by the Trust for Heritage Open Days in September and it is hoped that the building will be completed in October.  

Viewing the historic kitchen with original ovens, range and bread oven.