Far Gosford Street: Council loan 'will complete restoration'

Far Gosford Street The street has already been partially restored

A council has given developers a £1.36m loan for a city heritage project.

Work on the second phase of restoring Coventry's historic Far Gosford Street was due to start in early 2014.

However, Complex Development Projects (CDP), which is overseeing the work, said it had struggled to find finance for the scheme.

The street has 14 Grade-II listed buildings, including a number with medieval timber frames.

'A life-saver'

The street has already been partially restored in a £2.7m scheme that was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and European grants.

History of a street

  • Far Gosford Street was the main route out of medieval Coventry towards Leicester and London.
  • The street was crammed with a variety of traders in medieval times. Metalworkers and locksmiths dominated in the 13th Century, with weavers and drapers taking over in the 14th and 15th Centuries.
  • During this period, the surrounding area was the site of several historic events, such as the duel between Henry Bolingbroke (later Henry IV) and Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, and the execution of the brother and father of Edward IV's queen, Elizabeth.
  • During the Civil War, houses adjacent to Gosford Gate were demolished to give Coventry's Parliamentarians a clear line of fire from the town walls.
  • The street largely avoided the devastating air raids of World War Two, while post-war redevelopment passed it by

Ian Harrabin, managing director of CDP, said partial funding for the second phase - which will cost £3.6m - had been secured from the European Regional Development Fund, but it depended on the project being finished by June 2015.

"We hadn't been able to get bank funding for the project so the council's funding was a life-saver," he said.

"It allows us to get cracking this summer."

The council hopes that restoring the rest of the street will help to turn it into a "bohemian quarter for the city".

Coun Lynette Kelly denied the council was directing money away from services, or that the loan was a risk.

"We set up a fund specifically for loaning out money to companies who can't get finance from banks for projects we think are really sensible," she said.

"A few years ago they would easily have been able to get the money for the banks.

"This is a project we know will bring in business rates for the council and we think it is something that really needs to happen."

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