An £11 million revamp of Upper Precinct is on track to be finished by the time of City of Culture starts, council bosses have said.

A key milestone began this week as works to remove the former Ernest Jones shop building and ramp started, which will be complete by the end of April.

Contractors Eurovia are also laying the rest of the paving over the next two months, beginning with a layer of Tarmac and new planters soon after.

Due to Covid-19, work has been delayed from the initial date of completion of March, but Coventry City Council said it will be finished by the time the City of Culture starts to welcome tourists in May.

Cabinet member for jobs and regeneration, Cllr Jim O’Boyle, said: “Covid struck and the date of City of Culture changed but it has always been the plan to finish it in time for City of Culture.

“It is on schedule and there are a lot more workers on site now as we get closer to completion.

Work at Upper Precinct

“The big news this week is we are starting to take the ramp down now above Ernest Jones which is a decision we took before Christmas.

“This justified that decision as without it the precinct would be half finished and without it it would be a bride without a groom and would not work. It is opening up the sightlines to the cathedral spires and it is making it lighter and cleaner.”

Works at Upper Precinct began at the end of 2019 with the removal of the green escalator and footbridges connecting to West Orchards Shopping Centre.

The wider works will include more greenery, seating spaces and a “showstopper” water feature, while the historic Naiad statue will later be brought back to sit in the middle.

Cllr O’Boyle said the works will provide a high-quality “attractive” space for people to enjoy.

He said: “Whilst more shopping takes place online, we need to utilise city centres in a different way.

Watch: The green escalator has gone from Coventry city centre

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“The opportunity to meet people in the city centre is much more of a thing than when I was younger. We have got to have attractive places to get together and that is what Upper Precinct is about.

“We will have other features too and George Wagstaffe’s Naiad will be pride of place. This is really high quality work and high quality materials. The precinct did suffer in the last 30 or 40 years to reach its full potential, but I think now it will.”

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