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City Council attacks Coventry 'Flying-saucer' listing

The decision to list Coventry’s modernist retail market has set back the city’s £1billion regeneration proposals, authority officials have claimed

Coventry City Council’s cabinet member for city development Gary Ridley said last week’s surprise move to grant the 1957 market hall a Grade-II listing, based on English Heritage (EH) advice, made it ‘much more difficult to develop [the city centre plot] as we would have liked to.’

Under the current proposals, drawn up by US architects the Jerde Partnership (see bottom right), the saucer-shaped building would have been pulled down and the traders relocated to a ‘much better position’ which recognised the market’s ‘role s a true anchor in the city’.

Ridley added: ‘We are very disappointed to hear English Heritage wants to make Coventry Market a listed building and we will be taking it up with them to understand why they think this is a positive move for the people of Coventry, the traders and our future regeneration plans.

‘Local people and traders helped us to draw up a very exciting plan for the market within the Jerde masterplan and we will continue to do our best to turn that into a reality despite the fact that the listing makes it more difficult.’

It is understood the council is considering whether to appeal agianst the listing decison.
 

PREVIOUS STORY: 19 June 2009

Coventry’s ‘Flying-saucer’ shaped market gets Grade II listing

The modernist, covered Coventry Retail Market has been recognised as part of England’s cultural heritage and been listed at Grade II

Built in 1957, the market provided a much-needed shopping area for the city following the destruction of several commercial zones during World War Two.

The building is still operational today, with many of the same families owning stalls. Its ‘key role in fostering a community spirit’ has now been recognised and the government has given it a grade II listing, on the reccommendation of English Heritage.

Designed by Douglas Beaton, Ralph Iredale and Ian Crawford from Coventry City’s own Architect’s Department, the market includes a vibrant interior with painted murals and sun motif mosaic.

Deborah Porter, from English Heritage, said: ‘The market has all the essential elements of rarity and architectural, technological and historic interest that make it listable, but the interior is particularly remarkable. The impressive Socialist Realist-style murals by East-German artists show humans and animals in farming and industrial scenes and are very unusual in England. It was one of the first buildings to have a roof-top car park, and for that reason too it is special.’

Readers' comments (13)

  • Excellent news, another 'modern' building given some national protection and recognition.

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  • This sounds like a special building. I can't help but imagine the external area surrounding the building being made into some kind of grassed area but its possibly used for delivery vans and extra parking so maybe its not a good idea.

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  • Try incorporating it into the 'regeneration' then Gary Ridley, insitead of moaning and making challenges. It's a great building, and it was right that it was listed as of national importance. Find another architect who can look positively at the building. Richard Griffiths is good at this sort of thing - and he's in the UK.

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  • The Secretary of State has a legal duty to add buildings of listable quality to the national list. English Heritage has a duty to give advice on the architectural merit of the building. It's not there to make judgements on anything wider.

    No doubt English Heritage (which is currently taking part in a public inquiry in Lancaster, alongside SAVE and It's Our City) will be more than willing to show how regeneration doesn't have to mean destruction.

    If Coventry thinks that it has a good case for the demolition of the now listed building, as per PPG15, let it try that route, instead of the backdoor route of challenges to the listing, which is not in the wider public interest.

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  • Covenrty poorly maintain a lot of their architecture.
    Coventry sports center (1977) is a great example of modern architecture but they have zero respect for it and have plastered the whole inside with magnolia paint?!
    The Coventry Market is important - but as usual they have defaced and bastardized the design. They ripped the clock down and left it in the weeds to rot! Then replaced it with was a sign with a clock in the middle?
    They patch it up and poorly paint it.
    Having little interest and no respect for architecture of course they want to rip the market down.
    For the second time the city center is going to be demolished the real enigma is this time they know it's coming so why not protect the good bits?

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  • Steven Webb

    Covenrty poorly maintain a lot of their architecture.
    Coventry sports center (1977) is a great example of modern architecture but they have zero respect for it and have plastered the whole inside with magnolia paint?!
    The Coventry Market is important - but as usual they have defaced and bastardized the design. They ripped the clock down and left it in the weeds to rot! Then replaced it with was a sign with a clock in the middle?
    They patch it up and poorly paint it.
    Having little interest and no respect for architecture of course they want to rip the market down.
    For the second time the city center is going to be demolished the real enigma is this time they know it's coming so why not protect the good bits?

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  • The comments here are bizarre. This market is a temporary shack quickly thrown up by a City Council seeking to meet an immediate need in post-war Coventry. Why this should now be used as an excuse to air a personal, and unsubstantiated gripe about the current Council, which has nothing to do with earlier superficial maintenance issues is something of, if you will, a facade.

    Others who may desparaltely argue legal technicalities clearly fail to apply the common sense principle. The shack is a poorly constructed, ugly instrusion on a city which is hardly the best looking to start with. That says more than any hypothetical argument about thye need to keep physical manifestations public sector 'architecture' which, would have been treated with the scorn and deriision it deserves had this been a private for profit development

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  • It's been there forty years and is now listed at Grade II. Hardly a 'temporary shack', and a thoroughly considered listing by the Secretary of State. No doubt now the routine attemts to have it delisted will start, with a 'consultant' hired to say it's rubbish and should never have been listed.

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  • Fifty!

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  • Coventry Indoor Market. Not exactly the best looking building, but when you think about it, the rest of the concrete structures that were built after the war, apart from a few e.g. AXA building, aren't exactly things of beauty.

    The Market is a part of the city. To have it listed, despite looking like a 'shack', is a great honour to the city and since it was listed, work has rebgun on it to bring it back to the former glory it had when it 1st opened.

    The regeneration of the city is slightly overdone. It is way too modern for Coventry, a city riddled with historic value and charm. It has a flare that not many cities can compete with.

    So, the people who have worked on the design of Coventry can redesign one slight area, move a few things around and there we go, job done. As long as the market is brought back to a state where you can actually look at it, without thinking, why did they ever build it, then they should not make such a large fuss over nothing.

    Great building for what it does. It stays.

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  • Ridley, get over it! And stop trying to blackmail people into forcing the building to be demolished.
    It's a building of great significance, and character (you may need to look this word up in a dictionary). And, if it received the attention it deserves, could be a building of great beauty. For a start, the council need to stop putting scaffolding around it to make it look like it's failing down. It's not, it's solid concrete, and in great structural condition.
    A good developer would embrace such an iconic building, and work it into their plans. Or is that the real problem, Mr Ridley?

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  • There are a great many buildings in Coventry which have been left to fall into disrepair. This gives a perfect excuse not to use them in future plans. Most markets that are rebuilt end up empty. Cov market is thriving at the moment and if it was repaired would be an unusual building with tons of character.

    Coventry City Centre was innovative, and if the original ideal had been followed through and managed properly the city centre wouldn't look how it does today. All it needs is a good restoration programme and someone with the guts to admit that just because it's different it isn't bad. These plans will rip the soul out our City.

    I'm not against change, but to do something this drastic is wrong. I wish someone would sit up and notice how interesting the architecture is, and take pride in what we already have.

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  • I saluate English heritage for this marvellous verdict.
    Coventry has lot of Modern buildings as jewels in its crown.England should be proud to have a city of coventry's stature.

    Coventry city council should promote in form of a book called "Coventry Modern" preseve promote and invest buildings of this era.

    Perhaps a Reinvention,Keep the design Change the material just like the "Mini Cooper".

    Coventry has to Romanticise its past and please do not forget the time just after bombardment the city architects proposed a city plan and design so contemporary,so modern,so innovative for its people creating an image of a Modern robust city and now "somebody" wants them removed,This sounds like Ethnic cleansing.

    The decission makers have to open up their eyes and See what a glorious past Coventry has!!!!!!!!!



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