C20 Society is delighted that DCMS has today followed Historic England’s recommendation and listed a group of post-war buildings in Coventry at Grade II. These include the Upper Precinct Link Blocks, the former Leofric Hotel and the BHS, Woolworths and Marks and Spencer’s on the corner of Market Way.
Although renowned for its medieval architecture, Coventry was one of the most comprehensively re-planned cities in the country following extensive bombing in 1940. The Upper Precinct is of major importance as a group of buildings which set the standard for town planning practice in the post-war era, and for their overall architectural quality. You can read more about the history of post-war Coventry in Historic England’s beautifully illustrated book here (also available as a free pdf).
The Society has been raising awareness about the level of redevelopment planned in the run up to 2021 – the year that Coventry will be celebrating its status as City of Culture – and have been concerned that many of the best buildings will be compromised or lost before they can be duly celebrated. These listing decisions have come just in time. Approved plans to infill the colonnades, make major changes to the glazing, and remove canopies will now need listed building consent.
This gives us the opportunity to make a stronger case for proposals that will rejuvenate the area and bring it up to modern requirements, but which will not come at the expense of what makes the area so special.
Historic England have been undertaking a heritage review in the city as part of their Heritage Action Zone project, which aims to boost investment and bring prosperity through a celebration of the historic environment. This raft of listings is a big, positive step towards making this happen.