I sent out a press release to local media, at midnight on Sunday, about the city council's finalised "City Centre Masterplan".
Our main points of criticism were that:
- When you strip other factors away, the purpose of the new city centre is to create a place where people shop and shop and shop some more. The Green Party believes, both here in Coventry and nationwide, that we need a society-wide emphasis on sustainability. We can't keep consuming as we have, with shopping fuelled by credit card debt.
- The "10 Guiding Principles" of the project do not prioritise sustainability. Indeed, the "10 Principles" do not even mention carbon emissions, public transport, or how energy will be generated for new city centre buildings. The "10 Principles" don't mention living wages for those who will be working in the renewed city centre. Unless you place these factors front and centre, it's hard to take seriously the rebuttal (by the council, on Touch FM this morning) that they will be key to this project.
- It's unclear how representative the consultation was of Coventry's population. 42% of Coventry was under the age of 30 in the 2001 census. Less than 18% of those involved in the consultation were under 30. This seems very lopsided in a city with two universities (Coventry University; the University of Warwick).
- From areas/buildings to be knocked down/demolished, we need an explicit commitment to use the materials to help build community centres and repair schools throughout Coventry.
What we need to do is strengthen local high streets throughout Coventry, rather than drawing retail activity away into a city centre that will take 15 years to build. Instead of a Disneyland of a city centre, Coventry must attract the same degree of private investment and have it focused on putting our economy, city-wide, on a sustainable footing (retrofitting houses, renewable energy projects ward by ward, public transport).