An award-winning Coventry-born fashion designer has launched a new and bigger shop in the city’s Creative Quarter.
The acclaimed Ashley Raynor and her popular childrenswear brand Wear Milo’s has moved from a small unit at FarGo Village to larger premises at the haven for independent creative businesses.
Wear Milo’s specialises in childrenswear, from infants all the way up to children aged 12, and has now also added adult sizes and a variety of home furnishings to its impressive portfolio of bright and funky clothing ranges tailored to the younger members of families.
When making a trip to Wear Milo’s, visitors are thrown into an enchanted forest setting, with the newest tenants at FarGo Village looking to fit in with its innovative and independent business neighbours by creating a unique and fun shopping space that people of all ages can enjoy.
Visitors step into a multi-use space that also gives an insight into the working studio behind the garments, with customers seeing the journey their purchase goes on, right from the various materials being cut and sewing machines pulling it all together up to when it enters their hands at the till point.
The business is the brainchild of Ashley Raynor, a local girl who has made an impression both here in the UK and across the Atlantic, having had her fashion collections exhibited at New York Fashion Week and in Vogue Magazine– supplemented by pop-up stands showcasing her work at John Lewis department stores across the UK.
Ashley, who was named in the global top 20 emerging designers to watch by SwatchOn in 2020, is also a Director of Coventry Fashion Hub and wants to help the next generation looking to get into the industry to make their mark in the city, instead of looking to London for career opportunities.
Ashley, Owner of Wear Milo’s, said: “I’m really pleased to have brought Wear Milo’s back to Coventry and to FarGo Village in particular.
“The opening of our new base gives us a great platform to expand our operations in the region, collaborate with exciting local creators and designers on future collections and ultimately build on the experiences we’ve had with leading UK clothing retailers to gain even greater access to the high street.
“We’re enjoying seeing people in person again and can’t wait to welcome more Coventrians and other members of the public through our doors. Looking ahead, we’ve got some exciting ideas lined up and look forward to sharing them with everyone in due course.”
Jo Truslove, Project Marketing Manager at Complex Development Projects, said: “Ashley and Wear Milo’s were with us during the early days of our then up-and-coming complex – basing themselves out of a shipping container originally!
“We’re delighted to have welcomed them back to FarGo, this time in one of our largest unit spaces, which reflects the growth of the business in recent times.”
To discover more about Wear Milo’s and purchase items online, visit www.wearmilos.com.
Keep up to date with the journey of Ashley and Wear Milo’s by following them on Facebook and Instagram.
A £1.1 million project to convert a former pub in Coventry city centre into a ground-breaking 5G digital space for the Belgrade Theatre will officially open in March.
Regeneration specialist Complex Development Projects (CDP) was given planning permission in spring last year to convert the premises of the un-used Jaguar Pub on Corporation Street into an immersive digital space for the nearby Belgrade Theatre with two apartments for visiting performers.
The legacy project from Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture involves creating a shared working space where visitors can borrow or plug in their own computers to access Wi-Fi to develop their own streaming content.
Up to 100 people will also be able to watch short films, stand-up comedy, poetry and music in the venue which is accessible to emerging creative talent and community organisations across Coventry.
The project is a partnership with Coventry City Council who have provided funding through the Cultural Capital Investment Fund as part of UK City of Culture. It has been delivered by CDP for the Belgrade Theatre on a pro bono basis to support the theatre. CDP acquired the long leasehold property in 2017 and have funded and delivered the conversion whilst the grant funding has been put in place.
Ian Harrabin, Managing Director of CDP, said the idea for the project was formed in the early days when Coventry was bidding for the UK City of Culture title.
He said: “The Belgrade was looking for ways to expand their engagement with young people and improve their sustainability and we came up with the idea of repurposing the much-loved Jaguar pub to keep it as a venue for the community. The project is a shining example of how businesses can help the city’s creative sector, pairing our regeneration expertise with the Belgrade’s imaginative proposals for this new use.”
Vera Ding, General Manager at the Belgrade Theatre, said: “The Jag will help us to reach new audiences, providing a safe space in the city centre for young people to come together to engage in creative digital programmes, events and workshops by making the most of 5G.
“The look and feel of the whole ground-breaking space is edgy, functional and industrial with some smaller touches to make it a welcoming space as well as making it accessible to all sections of the community.”
Cllr David Welsh, Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities at Coventry City Council, said: “This is a great example of the Council working in partnership to deliver a flagship project for the young people of the city. Many people will have fond memories of The Jag in its heyday as a pub and this imaginative reuse will keep it open to the community and give it a fresh purpose.
“It is really important that young people, have the chance to develop skills that will improve their job prospects and I’m really looking forward to seeing the project fully operational.”
Marion Plant, chair of the Productivity and Skills Business Group at Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) added: “The Government’s Getting Building Fund and Local Growth Fund both focused on improving infrastructure to boost the local economy, and re-purposing this much-loved building is a fantastic way to introduce it to a new generation but in a totally different way.
“Improving skills is a high priority for CWLEP in our Strategic Reset Framework and this digital space will help more young people develop their talents for their future careers and acquire the skills which employers need.”
The £1.1 million project has been funded by Coventry City Council’s Cultural Capital Investment Programme as part of the Belgrade Theatre Capital Project through Coventry City Council, Arts Council England and the Government’s Getting Building Fund and Local Growth Fund through the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP), the Wolfson Foundation, the Garfield Weston Foundation, Foyle Foundation, The 29th May 1961 Charitable Trust, and The Higgs Charity.
Work has begun on the first project in the regeneration programme to turn Leamington’s Old Town into a magnet for creative industries, building on the town’s growing Silicon Spa reputation.
Regeneration specialists Complex Development Projects (CDP) has started work on the restoration of the Grade II listed United Reformed Church which will be converted to provide modern office space for creative/digital businesses. The character of the main chapel will be retained with a triple-height central atrium, with the crypts transformed into break-out spaces and office pods.
Two further buildings facing Spencer Yard are also part of the project. The adjoining former nursery will be refurbished with a ground floor extension at the rear of its premises to provide more usable flexible office space with a rooftop terrace overlooking the church. A top floor extension will be added to the Dole Office which will provide space for smaller businesses.
The works are being undertaken as part of a funding package with a grant from the Future High Streets Fund as part of the Government’s plan to renew and reshape town centres – making them a more attractive place to live, work and visit.
CDP is Warwick District Council’s Regeneration Partner in the overall 10-year Creative Quarter Initiative and is working up several projects with the Council to galvanise creative activity in Old Town.
Sustainability is key to the project with Spencer Yard set to become more pedestrian-friendly with less car parking and there will be more landscaping, lighting and a covered cycle storage area while air source heat pumps and solar panels are also being added to the buildings.
Minister for Levelling Up, the Union and Constitution, Neil O’Brien MP said: “It’s fantastic that restoration work is beginning to transform historic Spencer Yard.
“Leamington is already a thriving hub for creative and digital industries and this project will draw more companies and investment into the town.
“We are investing in impressive local projects like this which provide opportunity, boost local economies, and help communities build back better as we level up the nation.”
Cllr Andrew Day, the Leader of Warwick District Council, said: “This is a watershed moment, and we are excited at the prospect of seeing the long-awaited transformation of an underutilised area into a vibrant and innovative hub for our creative and digital industries. However, this is just the start of an ambitious Creative Quarter vision which will bring our town the massive boost and far-reaching recognition it deserves!”
Katie Burn, Senior Development Executive at CDP, said Spencer Yard was already a creative area with current occupiers including Heartbreak Productions, Motionhouse and the Loft Theatre.
“Our consultation showed there was a shortage of space for the digital creative sector to expand or locate within the town and it’s a key industry in Leamington with ten per cent of the UK’s gaming sector working in the area,” she said.
“It is great to be finally starting construction work after many months of preparation. The initial works to the chapel will provide a new roof and will take place under a temporary roof to protect the fine interiors during the winter months.
“Demand is strong from occupiers and we are already talking to businesses that will bring jobs to the town and boost the local economy.”
John Cooke (Warwick District Council), Katie Burn (CDP), Ian Harrabin (CDP), Cllr Andrew Day, Mark Brightburn, Philip Clarke, and Martin O’Neill (all from Warwick District Council).
Revised plans to create a new sustainable community on the edge of Coventry city centre have been submitted for planning approval.
Leading Birmingham architects Glenn Howells Architects and BPN were brought in to undertake a total redesign of the project in consultation with local residents following concerns expressed at a Coventry City Council planning committee on previous proposals in January.
The fresh proposals will create a new community of 700 homes called Abbotts Park on the 5.5-acre former industrial site. The mix of home types ranges from three-bedroom townhouses to one and two-bedroom apartments with 20 per cent affordable housing provided for those on lower incomes.
Sustainability is at the heart of the scheme, with new links to the city centre encouraging residents not to own cars. There will be a minimum of 15 spaces for a shared car club and 25% of all car parking spaces will be for electric vehicle charging.
The new buildings are also being designed with increased carbon efficiency to levels that are 40 per cent above the requirements of building regulations.
The new Linear Park with the recreated Radford Brook and over 1,000 trees and saplings planted, runs through the centre of the scheme and connects under the ring road to Belgrade Plaza. The park, which is nearing completion and due to open in February 2022, also includes a children’s play area, a climbing wall and a feature ‘Zen Arch’ structure that crosses the brook.
A small village centre with a convenience store, café and other facilities will give the new development a community heart and plans also include a new orchard and wildlife area project with the pupils of nearby St Osburg’s Primary School.
Kathryn Ventham of planning consultants, Barton Willmore, said: “We listened to feedback from local residents and the Council’s Planning Committee and went back to the drawing board with new architects that are some of the best in the region.
“The team has been working closely with planning officers for the past nine months to make sure all of the concerns are taken on board. The result is a much better scheme which we hope will be welcomed by the Planning Committee early next year.
“The project raises the bar on sustainability and provides the quality of the environment that is much-needed if we are to attract people to live in a way that is kinder to the planet, where they can walk to work in the city centre.
“The improvements to the city centre in recent years have made an astounding transformation and it is now a place where many people want to live. It’s always difficult being the first to pioneer a change in the way we do things, but this is a change that Coventry needs to make if we are to minimise the loss of the Green Belt and tackle air quality.”
Rob King, Associate at Glenn Howells Architects, said: “Working collaboratively with BPN Architects and Robert Colborne Landscape we have reimagined the plans for new homes at Abbotts Park that will see sustainability and landscape-led spaces at its heart.
“Our proposals take inspiration from the surrounding materials of the Naul’s Mill conservation area to provide a collection of well-proportioned residential buildings.
“In what will be a great step forward to regenerate the former Abbotts Lane Gasworks, our designs will limit the routes for vehicles and prioritise pedestrian movements to help transform this industrial site into a vibrant new neighbourhood.
“The creation of a new community orchard, green residential courtyards and linear rain gardens will increase biodiversity across the site and provide safe spaces for social interaction, families and doorstep play.”
A new sustainable community set in high-quality landscaping could be created on the edge of Coventry city centre under new plans which have just been released.
Abbotts Park, the 5.5-acre derelict former gasworks site on Abbotts Lane, is planned to provide 700 homes with a mix of three-bedroom townhouses and one and two-bedroom apartments with the new Radford Brook Linear Park as the centrepiece to the development.
Complex Development Projects has undertaken a wholesale re-design of the scheme after a previous application to build on the land was rejected by Coventry City Council at the start of the year.
The company has taken on board concerns over access and parking and has re-designed the scheme to be more family orientated.
The number of homes has been reduced to 700 and there will be a mix of low to mid-rise homes to meet the needs of Coventry’s housing market, while the allocation of parking has been increased and includes electric vehicle charging, shared car clubs and a residents’ permit scheme to remove any impact on surrounding streets.
Unusually, CDP has created the Linear Park feature upfront, including recreating the Radford Brook in a natural valley reversing over 200 years of industrial development.
Work on the Linear Park will be completed in December and create a direct landscaped link from the city centre under the ring road to Naul’s Mill Park. Features include a climbing wall, amphitheatre, feature ‘Zen’ arch structure, children’s play area and over 1,000 trees.
The announced proposals on land on either side of the Linear Park make landscaping a key feature with the green theme running throughout the development.
The proposals prioritise pedestrian movement along green routes creating a green connection between the surrounding community and the Belgrade Theatre under a raised section of the ring road.
Abbotts Park is planned to have a small village centre with a convenience store, café and other facilities to give the new development a community heart distinct from the city centre only a short walk away.
Ian Harrabin, Managing Director of CDP, said: “We went back to the drawing board after feedback from the public and Planning Committee. The result is a much better scheme, based on sustainable principles that reduce our impact on climate change.
“The re-use of this derelict industrial site, in a central location where people can walk to work and use public transport, saves a large area of green fields from future development and reduces reliance on the car. This has to be the future if we are to live in balance with our environment.
“We have made sure to prioritise pedestrians, green spaces and tree planting but still creating a density that saves a huge amount of land from suburban development. In this location, you won’t need a car, but we have recognised that some of the residents will still want a parking space.
“We have moved the parking access far away from St Osburg’s Primary School and a new orchard and wildlife area will be created opposite the school which will engage pupils in the natural environment.
“The plans can now be viewed on our website. We welcome feedback on these new proposals before submitting them formally in time for consideration by the planning committee early in the New Year.”
For more information and to participate in the online consultation, visit the project page HERE
One of Coventry’s ancient watercourses which used to power a medieval fulling mill on the edge of the city centre is flowing again for the first time in over a century thanks to a major new naturalisation project.
The recreation of the Radford Brook is part of a £6m land reclamation project by Complex Development Projects (CDP) and funded by West Midlands Combined Authority, to create a new 700m Linear Park from Belgrade Plaza to Naul’s Mill Park as the centrepiece for a major new housing development.
Around 400 metres of underground pipework has been installed to bring the culverted brook under two roads to re-emerge in the former depot and gas works site where thousands of new trees and plants will create a green corridor for wildlife.
The former mill pond in Naul’s Mill Park converted into a model boating lake in Edwardian times, has also been naturalised to create a new wildlife haven and improve the water quality in the heart of the city.
The foundations have been laid for two new feature bridges over the brook, which powered the 12th-century Naul’s Mill built for the cleaning of cloth which was the source of the city’s medieval wealth.
The Linear Park is expected to be completed and opened to the public in October this year, and Naul’s Mill Park will host the Beneath the Trees event on August 28 which is part of UK City of Culture.
Katie Burn, senior development executive at CDP, said Radford Brook will be the focal point of a proposed new high-quality residential district for the city.
She said: “This new water feature is already bringing wildlife back to a site that had been a contaminated gasworks for 200 years.
“Coventry’s gasworks was founded in 1821 and turned what must have been an idyllic setting of the stone mill and brook into a fenced-off industrial wasteland. We wanted to turn the clock back to bring a wildlife corridor right into the city centre for people to enjoy.
“We have already finished work on the large pond with natural planting around the edge that will grow over the coming months to provide a habitat for newts, fish and wetland birds.
“The Linear Park will be transformational for this part of the city, providing a direct green link from the city centre under the raised ring road and out to the suburbs.”
The work is being carried out by Coventry-based landscape contractors Idverde.
Cllr Patricia Hetherton, Cabinet Member for City Services at Coventry City Council, said: “The transformation is already astounding and I can’t wait to see the project completed with the new bridges in place and the plants fully grown. We have seen a great public response to the water features installed as part of the public realm improvements in the Upper Precinct and this will have similar appeal with a piece of countryside recreated right on the edge of the city centre.”
Please take a look at the video to see the brook in all its glory!
Ambitious plans to turn Leamington’s Spencer Yard into a hub for creative businesses have been approved by Warwick District Council, breathing new life into the Old Town area and boosting the town centre economy.
Regeneration experts Complex Development Projects (CDP) have put forward exciting plans to restore and convert three largely unused buildings to provide an attractive workspace for the digital creative sector.
The company is working in partnership with Warwick District Council on a ten-year regeneration initiative to boost the growth of the Creative Quarter in Old Town. The Spencer Yard development will be the first project to be delivered under the partnership and is set to provide creative business space within the Grade II listed United Reformed Church, the former Nursery and the former Dole Office that surround Spencer Yard.
The large neo-classical United Reformed Church with its iconic columned portico is a landmark building on Spencer Street and was designed by local architect John Russell and built-in 1838 to house a congregation of 1,200 people. The building’s original features will be restored with the full internal height retained as a dramatic atrium for the new offices.
The basement schoolroom and crypts will be transformed to create individual work pods and studio spaces with a communal reception and social space. A new social space at the rear of the building on the ground floor will open up into the yard, improving accessibility and activity in the area.
The adjoining former nursery will be refurbished with an extension over the courtyard to provide more usable flexible office space with a rooftop terrace overlooking the church.
The former Dole Office will have a new glazed entrance and decorative panelling retaining its industrial character to respect its history as a workshop used for developing camouflage during World War II.
Sustainability has been at the heart of the designs, removing much of the car parking to make way for new covered cycle stores and public realm improvements to encourage pedestrian activity. Showering and changing facilities will also be provided in the buildings.
CO2 emissions are proposed to be reduced through a combination of enhanced building fabric standards, low energy LED lighting, low carbon heating via air source heat pumps and on-site electricity generation through roof-mounted photovoltaic panels.
Cllr Andrew Day, the Leader of Warwick District Council, said: “We can’t wait to get started! The proposed plans for these buildings are both edgy and stunning and will provide a catalyst for the regeneration of the whole area as a home for our thriving creative and digital industries. This is just the tonic we need as we emerge from the pandemic and something we can all look forward to.”
Katie Burn, Senior Development Executive at CDP, said they are delighted to have consented to start the first phase of development in the Creative Quarter.
“Spencer Yard is already home to a number of creative businesses and we want to add to that to create a vibrant and desirable destination,” she said.
“The scheme has been designed to build upon the national and international importance of the creative and digital industries in Leamington which will also boost the local economy post-Covid. It is a great opportunity to regenerate and breathe new life into the Old Town as well as encourage inward investment.
“This development will not only restore several key buildings in the Old Town particularly the United Reformed Church which has been rapidly deteriorating but will also create a new gateway into the town and improve the routes and environment from the railway station to the town centre.
“We are continuing to work with our partners at Warwick District Council to develop ideas for the next phase of the Creative Quarter, including a mix of uses such as artist studios and workshop/maker spaces, residential uses and areas for independent retailers to thrive.”
Delicious street food, music, craft beer, and fabulous cocktails will mark the launch of Coventry’s first permanent indoor street food venue.
‘Factory’ at FarGo Village in the city’s Creative Quarter will be home to five permanent street food specialists, providing high-quality food and drink from brunch until dinner.
Stripclub Streetfood will be tempting customers with their tasty burgers; The Paneer Wrap Street Food Company will be tantalising vegetarians and vegans with their traditional Indian spices; The Grub Shed is renowned for its dirty loaded fries; Dough and Flow will be creating fresh Neapolitan pizzas and Get Us Baked, run by The Brownie Box by Emily which is already based at FarGo Village, will be serving brunch, coffees, and cakes from the bar.
The £360,000 renovation work has in part been funded by the Cultural Capital Investment Fund, which includes an allocation from the Getting Building Fund from the Government via the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) and Arts Council England funding.
Three units have been refurbished into an open-plan dining area with an industrial ambiance to reflect its history as a car radiator factory for Coventry Motor Fittings for 60 years.
The new roof terrace will seat 70 diners, the mezzanine a further 70, and an inside dining area will also have seating for 70 when it initially opens due to Covid-19 restrictions and social distancing. This will rise to a total of 300 when the Government’s road map is due to change on June 21.
Graeme Ellis, who previously worked for Amadeus Food at the NEC in Birmingham, will be overseeing operations as Food and Beverages Manager. Between 15 and 20 new staff will be employed to work across Factory and The Box, FarGo Village’s on-site creative arts venue, also due to reopen with a programme of live music, theatre, and family-friendly entertainment when restrictions ease.
At the official opening on Friday, June 4, a range of music will entertain customers and there will also be craft beer from Purity and Twisted Barrel Ale and a new range of cocktails including “The Goose Ford” and “The Hand and Heart”. The very popular Project D will also be making an appearance in FarGo Village for the launch of Factory, trading on Friday, June 4 from 6 pm–10 pm, and Saturday, June 5, and Sunday, June 6 from 12 pm–6 pm.
In addition, London-based Green Rooms Market will be visiting Coventry for the first time, transforming the Market Hall into a jungle-like plant market for the weekend.
All this alongside FarGo’s existing food and drink businesses which include BIB Noodle specialising in hand-pulled noodles, Leave It To Esmie’s vibrant Caribbean cuisine, Dirty Kitch, one of Coventry’s best exclusively vegan eateries, and Choc ‘n’ Roll/Gourmet Food Kitchen, the #1 Bakery/Restaurant in Coventry.
Elyse Cadden, The Box Venue Manager of FarGo Village, said the work was nearly complete and she is counting down the days until Factory opens.
“Everyone connected with this project is really looking forward to seeing the final results at our official opening on June 4,” she said. “We will be providing a must-visit dining experience with independent street food, music, craft beer, and cocktails, which is an element that has been missing from the city. “To be opening on the same day as Coventry Moves – the signature event to mark the start of Coventry’s 12 months as UK City of Culture – makes it extra special. “We have signed up five fantastic street food companies for semi-permanent residencies; we will be inviting new operators in at regular intervals to keep the vibe fresh and new.”
Helen Peters, board director and chair of the CWLEP’s culture and tourism business group, said the opening of Factory was particularly timely with the easing of Government restrictions later in June. “I’m sure Factory will entice a whole range of customers from people living in Coventry and Warwickshire to visitors attending events during UK City of Culture,” she said.“The Getting Building Fund was set up to support the recovery of the economy in the UK post-Covid with projects that could get up and running quickly and this is a perfect example.
“At the CWLEP we have been working on our Strategic Reset Framework and one of our aims is to reimagine our city and town centres through bold approaches to enterprise. This kind of innovative dining experience is just the kind of venue that supports our key hospitality, tourism, culture, heritage, and retails sectors.”
Cllr Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs, Regeneration and Climate Change, at the Council, said: “We’ve only just begun our year as UK City of Culture and the fact that small businesses are gearing up to operate at the refurbished FarGo Village is fantastic news “We are already witnessing vast improvements we have made in the city centre and elsewhere, where we have secured investment and grants to improve locations like Factory at FarGo Village, and this is creating a new look to a venue while retaining features of its engineering past. “Loads of building and regeneration projects have been going on in the city throughout the major difficulties caused by the pandemic, and it all reflects the determination and resilience of everyone involved. “FarGo Village is a wonderful location that will be providing a really warm welcome to visitors and to local people of all ages and all communities throughout this year and in the years ahead.”
A community group has described the £300,000 improvements to a Coventry city centre park as a “dream come true” as the work looks set to be completed this autumn.
The Friends of Naul’s Mill Park and Complex Development Projects (CDP) met Lord Mayor of Coventry Cllr Ann Lucas as she performed a ceremonial turning on of the tap to refill the large pond after the first stage of regeneration works have been completed.
Originally a 12th-century mill pond, the large concrete-lined Edwardian model boating lake has been drained for much of the time in recent years suffering from leakages and problems with algae.
But now as part of wider plans to create a new linear park from Belgrade Plaza to Naul’s Mill Park, local landscape contractors Idverde, employed by CDP, have been working to naturalise the pond to create a new wildlife haven in the heart of the city.
Large pipes have been laid from the Radford Brook culvert to Naul’s Mill pond to improve water flow, the pond has been regraded and lined to improve water quality and to prevent leaks, and aquatic plants will be added shortly to develop a natural habitat.
Some 400m of underground pipework has been installed by a moling machine, bringing the natural brook under two roads to re-emerge in the former depot site in Abbotts Lane where the Radford Brook is being recreated at surface level surrounded by newly planted trees and shrubs as a continuation of the park. The brook will be the central feature for a new high-quality residential district.
Mary O’Hagan, of the Friends of Naul’s Mill Park, said the park is an important green space in the heart of Coventry.
“It is a dream come true for us to see this work take place,” she said. “The main reason we formed the park community group was that we were so sad at its deterioration.
“We have been lobbying for many years for the lake to be restored. It is a wonderful green space that is used by the community whether it is children playing, dog walkers, or people enjoying a picnic.
“Linking this park to the city centre is really important because we will no longer feel cut-off by the ring road. It’s only 400m from the Belgrade Theatre as the crow flies, but because of the ring road, it has always been hard to get to and it is surprising how many people don’t know that the park and it is fantastic to see this work going on to make it a place for everyone to enjoy.”
Beth Hensman, of Friends of Naul’s Mill Park, added: “This is such an important park since many people living near here don’t have a garden.”
Cllr Lucas, who came to the park as one of her last official engagements during her year as Lord Mayor, said: “I was really impressed by the overall concept which will be transformational – connecting a part of the city that has been cut off for far too long. The naturalisation of the lake and re-creation of Radford Brook will turn back the clock to a time when nature came right into the city centre.
“We are all very grateful for the efforts of the Friends of Naul’s Mill Park over many years and it is so nice to see their vision for the lake being finally achieved.”
Katie Burn, senior development executive at CDP, said: “The Friends of Naul’s Mill Park have done a fantastic job in helping to maintain and improve the park but it has been in need of major capital investment for a long time. By working together, we have managed to include the naturalisation of the lake within the overall Linear Park project by securing funding from the WMCA.
“We have worked closely with Coventry City Council on the project which will make a big difference to the health and wellbeing of people living nearby and further afield as the wider plans will bring it into the heart of the city.
“The work is progressing well and is due to open in September in time to showcase the city’s ever-growing green credentials during Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture.”
A major investment in planting to create a new urban park in Coventry is starting to put down roots.
Work has begun on planting mature trees at the new Linear Park which will form a 700m environmental corridor from Belgrade Plaza in the city centre, passing under the ring road and connecting to communities to the north.
Regeneration specialists Complex Development Projects (CDP) received planning permission for the new park in July last year and work commenced on the major landscaping project last month, following completion of remediation works to the former industrial site in Abbotts Lane.
The regeneration is supported by the West Midlands Combined Authority which has invested over £2 million in the landscaping project as part of the wider ambition to transform the area into a new, high-quality residential district.
Work is already underway on the naturalisation of Naul’s Mill pond as a new wetland habitat for wildlife and the planting of over 1,000 trees and saplings and 23,000 shrubs have now commenced.
The construction of the park is being undertaken by the UK’s leading grounds maintenance and landscape creation specialists Idverde UK, which has its headquarters in Coventry. The design of the project has been led by landscape architects, Barton Wilmore.
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, who is standing for re-election in May, visited the developing park to plant the first tree on the 5.5-acre site.
A new water feature recreating the natural Radford Brook through the Abbotts Lane site will be the focal point of the landscaping, with a feature bridge and new tree-lined avenues on either side.
Trees will also line the entrance to the site from the underpass under the ring road which is being transformed with a new climbing wall, performance amphitheatre, planting and feature lighting. To the north, a raised central circle surrounded by new trees will provide a new seating area and play space.
Naul’s Mill pond is being naturalised, changing the underused model boating lake into a natural pool with improved waterflow, sloped banks and aquatic plants to encourage wildlife.
The park will also provide new pedestrian and cycle routes from the north of the city as part of the planned residential districts eco-credentials.
Katie Burn, senior development executive at CDP, said Linear Park was now really starting to take shape.
“It was great to welcome Andy Street to the Abbotts Lane site to plant the first tree. This is a spectacular project that will make a major change in access to the city centre from Coundon and Radford. The linear park will break the concrete collar of the ring road and link the beautiful Naul’s Mill Park directly with the city centre for everyone to enjoy,” she said.
“Planting will continue over the coming months, with the work in Naul’s Mill park expected to be completed by early summer and the whole route completed by September.
“In Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture, we think the park is a great opportunity to showcase the city’s sustainability agenda and is a fantastic legacy project that can be enjoyed by residents and visitors of all ages for generations to come.”
West Midlands Mayor Conservative candidate Andy Street said: “It was a real honour to plant the first tree in such an exciting and visionary project to create a green corridor right in the heart of Coventry.
“With City of Culture just around the corner, there is so much going on which is reinventing the city centre, from the rejuvenated railway station to the Telegraph Hotel.
“This scheme will bring nature into the urban centre of the city, passing right underneath the ring road, creating something which local people will be able to enjoy for generations to come.
“It’s also great to see that a Coventry company is undertaking the construction of the park. I’m delighted to have been able to support it.”
Coventry’s first permanent indoor street food venue is set to be unveiled this spring when the city becomes UK City of Culture.
FarGo Village is planning to open ‘Factory’ in mid-May once Government restrictions allow food and drinks businesses to operate inside and outside.
Factory will be a food hub, bringing together high-quality, local and national favourites from the street food world; from award-winning burgers, handmade woodfired pizzas and brownies alongside hot drinks and brunch during the day, and cocktails and beers in the evening.
This exciting new venue is combining three of the biggest units at the Creative Quarter, to create one open-plan dining experience with an industrial vibe reflecting the history of the space, which was used as a car radiator factory by Coventry Motor Fittings for 60 years from the turn of the century.
There will also be a new roof terrace and covered canopy for diners to enjoy eating outdoors while COVID and social distancing measures remain in place.
Factory is also wanting to recruit a Food and Beverages Manager to oversee the 340 seating operation.
The £360,000 renovation at FarGo Village has in part been funded by Arts Council England and the Cultural Capital Investment Fund, which includes an allocation from the Getting Building Fund from the Government, through the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP).
Elyse Cadden, The Box Venue Manager of FarGo Village said they wanted five different operators to be located within Factory.
“We have had a couple of residencies from street food companies which have proved hugely popular and we believe this kind of independent street food venue is missing within Coventry’s dining sector,” she said.
“We also have some fantastic foodie businesses at FarGo Village already including Leave it to Esmie, Dirty Kitch, BIB Noodle, Twisted Barrel, Gourmet Food Kitchen and Choc n Roll. The addition of this outdoor dining space will allow these existing businesses to maximise their trading opportunities after an incredibly difficult year.
“We now want to attract additional new quality, experienced street food vendors who plan to make FarGo Village a core of their activities. However, we also have the flexibility to regularly change some of the operators to ensure there is always something new on offer. This will help cement FarGo Village as the place for independent dining in Coventry.
“There will also be the theatre of being able to watch your food being cooked whether it is a burger being flamed or a pizza base being hand pulled and cooked in a wood-fired oven.
“The plan is to open just after the launch of UK City of Culture once Government restrictions allow for indoor and outdoor dining – we just need the sun to shine!”
Cllr Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration at Coventry City Council and CWLEP board director, said: “The idea of a street food area at FarGo with new outdoor space is a great idea – not only will it offer opportunities for existing traders it will also attract new ones.
“I think after a year of lockdowns there will be a real appetite for this kind of offer and with a wide range of tastes from local specialities to food from across the globe, I think it’s sure to be a real hit.
“Like Far Gosford Street, FarGo has very quickly established a name for itself in the city and it has a growing number of loyal fans as well as continuing to attract visitors from outside the city. The idea of a food factory can only boost FarGo’s popularity further.”
Any street food operators interested in becoming part of Factory, should email email@example.com.
FarGo is keen to speak to people who may have worked at the Coventry Motor Fittings factory that was previously based there, and are particularly interested in finding old photographs of the factory, ideally with negatives, that could be incorporated into the branding and interior design of the space.
If you have any old images or footage of Coventry Motor Fittings, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTES TO EDITORS
Getting Building Fund
On 4 August 2020, the government confirmed the list of over 300 successful projects which will receive a share of £900 million from the Getting Building Fund.
The full list of projects is available on GOV.UK.
The Getting Building Fund is investing in shovel-ready infrastructure projects to create jobs and support economic recovery across the country. Projects funded include:
- regeneration of town and city centres
- green infrastructure and clean energy
- transport and digital connectivity improvements
- unlocking of housing and business sites
- support for SMEs and learners
The successful projects (over 300) are expected to deliver up to 85,000 jobs, over 1,500,000 sqm of commercial floor space, unlocking 45,000 homes, almost 1,000,000 sqm of the public realm or green space improved or created, over 50,000 new learners assisted, and 65 million kgs of CO2 emissions saved.
All projects have been selected by Local Enterprise Partnerships and Mayoral Combined Authorities in each area and endorsed by the Housing Secretary.
Some Midlands Engine key facts:
- The Midlands Engine is home to over 10.3m people and has a £238bn economy, generating over 12% of the UK’s Gross Value Added. The Midland Engine Partnership aims to close the productivity gap to match or exceed the national average by 2030.
- The Midlands is home to 835,000 businesses, and in 2019, the Midlands accounted for a 22% share of all of England’s goods exports.
CDP will once again be attending Creative Spark with Warwick District Council 22-26 February 2021, this year as a virtual event. Our Director Ian Harrabin MBE and Senior Development Executive Katie Burn will be speaking on Tuesday 23rd Feb at 3 pm to discuss Building a Creative Future for the area. Find out more about our Creative Quarter projects and how they will support the local creative economy.
Spark 2021 will turn creative talk into creative action, and galvanise our creative business community around a common purpose; recovery, promotion, and growth of the sector. This event will take place online. For more details and to register, visit