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Listing bid to save Coventry’s ‘Elephant’ building fails

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A listing bid to save the 1970s ‘Elephant’ leisure centre in Coventry has failed

Heritage campaign group the Coventry Society had submitted a bid to get the 1977 building listed in an attempt to save it from being razed to the ground as part of council redevelopment plans.

Last month FaulknerBrowns architects won a contest to design a new £36.5million leisure centre across the city - a scheme which looks set to spell the end for the nearly 50 year-old Fairfax Street pool and its Elephant-shaped extension.

Designed to mimic Coventry’s coat of arms, the Elephant sits alongside the grade II-listed 1966 Olympic-sized swimming pool designed by city architect Arthur Ling which is set to close once the ‘iconic’ new structure opens in 2019.

Speaking to the local press, Keith Draper, chairman of Coventry Society, said: ‘Coventry has many post-war buildings, many of them designed in the festive fifties era, but in the case of the elephant, completed in [the late 1970s], the very fact that it was designed by a team of architects in the city council appears to have weighed against it in the report.’

Draper added that he was now worried about the fate of the adjoining Olympic-sized swimming pool – the only one of its size in the West Midlands.

His fears were also echoed by the Twentieth Century Society which raised concern over the future of the Ling-designed pool building.

Senior conservation adviser Henrietta Billings, said: ‘The Elephant is undoubtedly a much loved and striking landmark but the jewel in the crown is the neighbouring baths which are now under threat.

‘It is a beautiful and carefully thought through design. There has been a lack of investment from the council and we are now concerned about the future of this building.’

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