By boxing clever and taking an innovative approach to securing funding, Coventry City Council has been able to accumulate the finances for a wide range of different projects, transforming the city in the process.
“We’ve been fairly fortunate, and quite creative as well, in securing external bid funding,” explains Chris Young, Senior Project Manager. “We’ve been successful with a range of applications including funding from the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the Regional Growth Fund and the European Regional Development Fund. Along with the myriad of different funding pots we’ve managed to receive funding from, we’ve also pooled money from capital maintenance programmes.”
Its approach has allowed Coventry City Council to amass a substantial war chest that it has utilised well in the two years since Construction Industry News last caught up with Mr Young. “In terms of Coventry city we’ve had an extensive major projects programme in place. As a result, in the last 24 months alone we’ve seen some massive changes across the city, particularly within the city centre.”
One such scheme has been the development of a new bridge over the A444 at Whitley Junction to help resolve the congestion issues for the Jaguar Land Rover engineering site. “It’s a circa £10m scheme to create a new access off and on to the A444 to avoid the traffic having to use the existing junction of Whitley roundabout, which at the morning peak is exceptionally bad with congestion,” adds Mr Young. “This will help significantly and assist in the continued growth of the Jaguar Land Rover site and retain the business here in Coventry.”
Another significant development has been the Junction 6 bridge deck, which is a key part of the Friargate scheme at the railway station. It is aimed at improving links between Friargate and the city centre by removing the raised roundabout and building a 100-metre wide bridge across the ring road, creating a new road layout and a public boulevard linking the railway station through Greyfriars Green directly into Bull Yard. A new junction has been created on top of the new bridge deck to provide access on and off of the Ring Road via three new roads.
“We’ve been successful with a range of applications including funding from the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the Regional Growth Fund and the European Regional Development Fund. Along with the myriad of different funding pots we’ve managed to receive funding from, we’ve also pooled money from capital maintenance programmes.”
“This is our key scheme in Coventry this year and is aimed at kick-starting the development of a high quality business district around the train station. The project involves the enabling works to facilitate the improvements and encourage development of the area.
“Around the train station at the moment is a lot of unused brownfield land as well as a number of 1960s tower blocks that are not fit for purpose which are very difficult to let. As a consequence there’s a high-end development taking place to demolish all these buildings in order to create a high quality business district. The civic buildings in the city centre will be demolished and the Council will decamp over there in 2017 once it’s completed. This is all about providing a seamless, high quality pedestrian boulevard link from the train station right into the city centre, whereas the previous lay-out had subways and other ring road crossings.”
This transformational project is set to provide 300,000 sq m (3,200,000 sq ft) of space over 25 efficient and sustainable buildings – including 14 Grade A office buildings, two hotels and new residential dwellings. These are set to create up to 15,000 jobs across a range of sectors
Moving forward there’s plenty more in the pipeline too, as Mr Young outlines: “We’ve also got the extended public realm programme that will feature high quality finishes. When we last spoke two years ago we’d just completed phase one, which was valued at about £10m, and we have now put in an enhancement bid in for some ERDF monies and have been successful on a number of occasions, amassing about £30m in total. This has seen a number of new schemes come onboard and we’ve now got aspirations to finish off several junctions around the city centre.”
The innovation that Coventry City Council has demonstrated regarding funding is a fine example to other local authorities in these austere times and it’s clear that the city will be continuing to benefit in the future as its redevelopment builds momentum.