Focus On: Coventry
Coventry was well known as a medieval centre before the Blitz of 1940 when much of the historic core was destroyed or seriously damaged. The city centre is based around a post-1945 civic and retail centre, the quality of which is only now beginning to be recognised.
Surviving remnants of the medieval city are seen in a number of key designated heritage assets, all of which are on the Heritage at Risk Register such as Lady Herbert's Garden and The Burges conservation area, Cox Street Gate, Swanswell Gate and Whitefriars Gate. Later elements such as the London Road Cemetery Chapels fall within the Heritage Action Zone area and would benefit from concentrated attention and financial support.
Following the publication of Coventry: Making of a Modern City by Historic England in 2016, there is scope for further recognition of the city's post-Blitz heritage. Other than widespread affection for the new Cathedral, the richness of Coventry's historic environment is relatively unknown outside the city.
Heritage Action Zone
The city centre, which will be the focus of the five year Coventry Heritage Action Zone project, falls within St Michael's Ward which is ranked - in terms of deprivation - 5918th out of 32,844 in England on Government's Index of Deprivation 2015. It falls within the bottom 20% for five out of the seven indices (which are: education, health, crime, barriers to housing and living environment).
An example of the impact the Heritage Action Zone may have would be tackling these issues by improving the environment in areas like The Burges - and then improving employment opportunities as shops are refurbished.
Other benefits may be in bringing abandoned upper floors back into use as accommodation, diversifying the range of retail outlets, improving the public realm and security - thereby reducing anti-social behaviour and providing learning opportunities through traditional building and crafts apprenticeships.
The Heritage Action Zone will 'Transform Coventry Through Heritage' with a suite of projects that meet at least one of its six key objectives:
- Raising the profile of Coventry's heritage
- Demonstrating and harnessing the benefits of heritage to the economy of Coventry and the wider area
- Protecting and enhancing Coventry's heritage
- Better understanding Coventry's heritage
- Reducing heritage at risk in Coventry
- Connecting the local community to Coventry's heritage
Check back here for updates on the Coventry Heritage Action Zone and follow us on Twitter @HE_WestMids for news and pictures from Coventry.