Greener Coventry in £1bn revamp

A £1bn revamp of Coventry will see the city centre transformed from a concrete jungle into an attractive shopping area with around 20 per cent dedicated to green space.

The dated concrete architecture, which replaced the historic city centre that was destroyed in 1940 by German bombing raids, will be demolished as part of the redevelopment plan.

The new areas of green space could include grassed areas, plants and trees, according to Coventry City Council leader Ken Taylor.

He said: "It won't be Kew Gardens but we don't just want sparsely spaced trees - it has got to be somewhere people will enjoy coming to see.

"We know that people treat retail as a leisure pursuit nowadays and we're trying to provide a reason for people to come to Coventry."

Los Angeles-based architect firm The Jerde Partnership has been approved to develop the blueprint for the new city centre, which is likely to double the number of shops in Coventry.

Taylor said one of the main reasons the council picked Jerde was because of the firm's track record in producing designs that had a strong emphasis on green space.

"Jerde has done some great designs in Tokyo and Warsaw and we think that's the sort of thing we need to be doing," he added.

The gradual greening of Coventry has already begun, with the completion of the city's £45m Phoenix Initiative, including four new public gardens, in 2003.

Rummey Design managing director Robert Rummey, who ran the landscaping for the project, said it had been well received.

He added: "People want public spaces that are convenient, safe and overlooked, that give a place its character and make it special."

The council is launching a consultation process to get ideas and input from local people that will be used by Jerde before its architects draw up the master-plan.

The two-phase makeover, which will not begin for at least a year, is anticipated to take up to 10 years to complete.

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