Blueprint boosts office and retail prospects in Coventry city centre


Coventry Council’s vision is set to enhance the quality and quantity of offices and shops in the heart of the city.
February 13, 2015

A new blueprint for Coventry is set to draw in business and catapult the city centre’s shops and offices up the national rankings.
Proposals to divide the heart of the city into nine quarters as a platform for development have been approved by Coventry City Council’s cabinet this week.
They are set to pique the interest of businesses looking for space to occupy as well as developers and investors alike.
Nick Holt, of D&P Holt, said: “The blueprint should generally allow growth in all sectors, thus increasing the local economy. It should in turn help local businesses to expand in the city and put Coventry firmly on the map where it belongs.”
The Area Action Plan (AAP) will create the Business Quarter around Friargate; Cathedrals and Cultural Quarter; the Civic Quarter; Far Gosford Street Quarter; Health and Learning Quarter; Leisure and Entertainment Quarter incorporating Sky Dome and Belgrade Plaza; Primary Shopping Quarter; Technology Park Quarter; and University and Enterprise Quarter.
James Brookes, from Bromwich Hardy, said: “In the short term, it is very difficult to predict availability and rent levels. But in the long term, with defined areas for specific use, rents should rise due to the concentration.”
Properties around the newly-built station and Friargate project will be the first areas to see values rise, according to Brookes. Hillfields is also set to be a particular hot spot should the plans come to fruition, he added.
“There are significant opportunities for commercial developers in a city with capacity for added value and plenty of development sites – now clearly defined through the AAP,” explained David Penn, managing director of Shortland Penn + Moore.
“The Cathedral Lanes renovation will be an absolute winner quickly, as quality restaurant brands will appear in the city pretty much for the first time, and the City Centre South Regeneration Scheme will hopefully create a comprehensive scheme, including strong anchors and increased floorplate sizes.”
The council plan will provide a major boost to the office sector. Coventry lacks quality Grade A offices, particularly in the city centre, and the proposals are set to bring new and much-needed properties to the market.
“We should see a steady increase in rents, particularly on offices, given the quality and improving stock that will be on offer,” said Holt.
“The office market should see the benefits of the Friargate scheme now becoming a reality. The amount of office space that is proposed there should attract some larger businesses. That will hopefully attract the larger retailers to the city centre.”
The masterplan’s real winner is likely to be the city’s retail sector. The AAP is set to tackle the “clear disparity between the city’s population and the quality of its retail offer”, the council said. Coventry is currently the country’s thirteenth biggest city yet its retail centre is ranked fifty eight.

Brookes said: “The retail sector should benefit most as the offer at present is very tired. It is probably about as low as it can go, so there is really only one direction it can go – and that is up.”

The blueprint also suggests more housing within the city centre, around Corporation Street and Fairfax Street. Penn agrees there “must be a comprehensive strategy that encourages the development of housing”.
He explained: “Coventry has low central housing values yet it is one of the best places in the country for future growth. It is partly due to the phenomenal impact of advanced technology and manufacturing and the pull of the universities to foreign students, bolstering the demand.
Brookes concluded: “I see a long and arduous process to put the proposals into place. But should it work, rents will rise and Coventry business should flourish due to the increased traffic into the city. Coventry is only 55 minutes from London on the fast train and it is not inconceivable that a number of businesses could relocate here for cheaper office space.”