The FPJ archives report that in 1999, Coventry Wholesale Market traders were asked to quit by September 2000. The local Council served notice to tenants at the site in the Barras Heath area of the city, after refusing to fund redevelopment of the existing market. Being close to the city centre and a new trunk road made the site prime for redevelopment.

The Council’s Economic Regeneration Policy Team had decided that proposals for the £5.5 million development of a food market was unviable and, in a letter to the tenants’ legal representative, offered three options:

  • building a smaller site elsewhere in the city;
  • refurbishing an existing building; or
  • relocating as individual businesses within the city.

It was alleged that there had been 44 years of Council neglect in Barras Heath: “There was no sinking fund set up when the market was opened,” said Martin Clifford, the tenants’ legal representative, “and the site has been left to go to rack and ruin. There is no option now but to demolish and reconstruct these buildings, so they have managed to evict us through their own lack of spending.”

The site has become a industrial park named Cyan Park, with modern warehousing units occupied by City Link & Talon International.

Coventry’s indoor market was also facing demolition to make way for a £1bn redevelopment plan for the city centre.

In June 2008, however, English Heritage announced that the city’s circular indoor market had been given Grade II-listed protection as a building of “national importance” and praised its painted murals and mosaic, saying that it was a symbol of the city’s rebuild after being bombed in 1940.

In November that year, Coventry Market celebrated its 50th anniversary and BBC Coventry & Warwickshire commissioned a film, which can be seen here, featuring people who shop or work in the market. The musical score was composed and directed by Benjamin Till.

In an online public poll, Coventry – which has an annual footfall of four million people – was voted Britain’s Favourite Market in the National Association of British Market Authorities 2010 awards. At first council chiefs said the market would have to move to allow the city centre work to continue and approached the government, hoping that English Heritage would be asked to review its decision.

In February this year, however, Coventry City Council leaders unveiled the new plan for the southern half of the city centre, drawn up by new architects Benoy. Redevelopment has been delayed by a year in the tough economic climate, work on the ground now not expected to start until late 2015 at the earliest, for completion in 2018.

David Cockroft, the council’s city centre director, said the government’s Grade II listing of the market meant it would have to stay, but service areas would be improved and English Heritage had approved plans for a new glass frontage for the market.

Market Mill reports that traders have welcomed the council’s commitment to give the market more prominence in the new-look city centre but are pressing for much-needed upgrading and refurbishment, with heating and air conditioning.

 

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