Owners move to defend Bayley House students flats plan

Monday 28 January 2013 Updated: 31/01 10:01

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THE owners of a building described by one of the world's leading conservationists as a medieval gem have defended their plans to turn it into student flats.

We reported last week how a planning application to convert the grade II listed Bayley House in Bayley Lane from offices into an 18-room block of flats had been submitted to the city council.

The Elizabethan building in Bayley Lane - one of the city's most historic streets - has been a business centre since 2005, but in recent years has struggled to attract tenants.

And last month the longest serving one served notice to leave too, according to Alan Pearson of planning consultants RCI Design Limited who said there was now a real danger the building could soon be left empty.

Jonathan Foyle, chief executive of the World Monuments Fund Britain, is among the opponents to the idea.

In a letter to the city council Mr Pearson wrote: "Unfortunately it has never returned a profit in all the years since. The owners now find themselves with its lowest occupancy since the start up.

"Despite numerous attempts and initiatives it continues to lose money. The owner have even moved some of his own business to mitigate the costs of running the building.

"The situation is unsustainable hence they need to take urgent action as each month the issues are compounding."

A public consultation on the plans runs until February 14 with the council's planning expected to make a decision by early March.

Bayley Lane is thought to follow the line of the outer ditch of the former Coventry Castle and excavations during extension work on Herbert Art Gallery and Museum completed in 2008 found evidence of bulding dating back to the 12th century.

City councillor Ed Ruane - who is leading the push for more to be done to attract tourists to the city - backed Mr Foyle's objection to the flats plan.

"We should not only be preserving this medieval part of the city, but doing more to attract visitors to this culturally rich part of the city.

"It is our duty as a council to protect some of Coventry’s medieval assets but more importantly to promote them, if not what unique historic attractions will we have left in the city?"

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