Coventry City Council has granted planning permission for a £82m Coventry Station Masterplan which will completely remodel their 1962 train station.
The council says they hope to create a new gateway to the city ahead of 2021 when they attract visitors to their UK City of Culture events.
The first phase to construct a new footbridge and canopies and an access tunnel under Warwick Road is already underway as part of the scheme which is being funded by the West Midlands Combined Authority, the CWLEP, the Department for Transport and other borrowings.
The second phase involves building a multi-storey car park for 633 vehicles, a new station concourse with access to all platforms and Warwick Road, and a new pedestrian route via an access tunnel under Warwick Road to a new bus interchange.
‘The railway station is the fastest growing outside London with passenger numbers increasing year-on-year so we need a station that can cope with increased demand and provide the right kind of Coventry welcome,’ said Cllr Jim O’Boyle, cabinet member for jobs and regeneration.
In related news, the council has also approved an £11.8m scheme to improve the Upper Precinct, which will see an improved pedestrian area and a new 75-bed student accommodation complex.
Both schemes have received £30m funding from the Government’s Local Growth Fund through the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP).
‘It’s been a while since we had this level of investment in our city approved in a single planning committee – but now we have the green light to crack on with these two important city centre projects,’ added Cllr O’Boyle.
In September, the Coventry Society criticised the original plans for the Upper Precinct, saying it didn’t take into account the listed buildings on the site whilst ignoring architect Donald Gibson’s plans to rebuild the city following the Second World War.
In a statement, they said: ‘It is unacceptable that these harmful proposals have not been drastically revised following the listing of all of the buildings on the site.
‘As an organisation with expertise in twentieth-century architecture, we are disappointed that our previous advice has been ignored by the applicant.’
However, Cllr O’Boyle says the approved plans will ‘help to reinstate [the Upper Precinct] back to something much closer to Donald Gibson’s original plan.’
‘We will ensure we retain the very best of the old whilst creating an environment appropriate for the way people want to enjoy their city centre today,’ he added.
Zamurad Hussain, CWLEP board director, said both schemes were vital in attracting more leisure and business visitors to Coventry.
‘As 2021 nears when Coventry is proud to be the UK City of Culture, these investments will help to showcase the city in a positive light to regional, national and international visitors,’ he said.
‘The Local Growth Fund is designed to help drive forward economic growth, support businesses and create jobs and having modern infrastructure in place will help to achieve that.
‘Connectivity from Coventry to other parts of the region will be improved once the new station is completed and it is important to create the right first impression to the city since the number of train passengers has tripled since 2003 and it is expected to double again by 2043.’