Hot Spot: Coventry

It is a city that has lived through dramatic events and major upheavals, but today it offers a settled environment and attractive house prices, says Robert Liebman
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The Independent Online

Coventry has given us Lady Godiva, a colour ("Coventry blue" dye was used in the manufacture of caps and bonnets), a phrase ("sent to Coventry" means being ostracised) and a nightmare (when the Luftwaffe destroyed large parts of the city in a huge bombing raid).

Coventry has given us Lady Godiva, a colour ("Coventry blue" dye was used in the manufacture of caps and bonnets), a phrase ("sent to Coventry" means being ostracised) and a nightmare (when the Luftwaffe destroyed large parts of the city in a huge bombing raid).

"Since the war there have been huge and ongoing strides in remodelling the city," says John Little of Hawkins estate agents. "Coventry has always been proud of its resilience. It has had various industries over the centuries: watches, silk, bicycles, motorcycles, cars. When things change, Coventry changes."

Property values have steadied. "In 1988 prices doubled in six months and then collapsed, but it took about six years to hit bottom. Since then, prices have been going up, up, up, until early this year, when they hit the ceiling. Now it is balanced: neither a buyer's nor a seller's market."

Large homes in popular suburbs and nearby villages sell for well over £500,000 "but first-time buyers can get a nice flat or maisonette for about £90,000, and there are pockets of period properties even in the city centre. The ring road is ideal for navigating the city, and it is easy to get everywhere," says Little.

Martin Davies, of Howkins & Harrison, says "the market is reasonably active and very price-sensitive. Within the city itself, the south and west are most in demand, places such as Earlsdon, Finham and Allesley. Finham has a good school, and Earlsdon has ambience, shopping, a variety of property types and good social facilities and amenities."

A hospital, more than 30,000 students at the city's two universities (Warwick and Coventry) and several local employers feed demand for rental properties. "Rents are not high. Investors are looking for capital appreciation, and values are holding up," says Davies.

THE LOW-DOWN

Getting there

Coventry has direct rail links with London and Birmingham. Junctions 2 and 3 of the M6 skirt the northern edge of the city. Coventry Airport has flights to 11 European destinations, and Birmingham International Airport is 20 minutes by car.

Attractions

With 39 works of art along a five-mile stretch, Canal Basin is the longest waterside art gallery in Britain. Every three years there are performances of the Coventry Mystery Cycle, one of the four surviving mystery play cycles in England. The medieval guildhall is among the city's architectural treasures.

Cathedral

The new St Michael's Cathedral incorporates the bombed ruins of the 14th-century cathedral. Britten wrote his War Requiem for the consecration in 1962.

Reconciliation

German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, British tenor Peter Pears and Russian soprano Galina Vishnevskaya were the scheduled soloists for the premiere of the War Requiem. In the event, Heather Harper replaced Vishnevskaya. In 1964 the cathedral contributed to a fund to rebuild a church hospital in Dresden, the city destroyed by Allied bombing in 1945. Dresden is one of Coventry's 26 twinned towns.

Godiva

Leofric, Earl of Mercia, agreed to reduce taxes if his wife, Lady Godiva, rode naked on horseback. She did, on Coventry's marketplace. Everyone averted their eyes, except Peeping Tom, who paid for his prurience by being struck blind.

Prices

According to Connells, average prices are £80,000 for one-bed flats, £90,000 for two-bed flats, £155,000 for three-bed semis, and £225,000 for four-bed detached. A one-bed flat in Wyken is £68,950, a two-bed flat in a purpose-built block in Allesley Village is £95,000, and a two-bed end-terrace in Whitley is £99,950, at Hawkins. A three-storey terrace, previously let to students, with three bedrooms and a loft room in Earlsdon is £115,000 at Howkins & Harrison.

Family homes

A five-bed modern detached house with integral garage near Walsgrave Hospital is £259,950, and a five-bed detached house with integral double garage in Longford is £299,950 at Hawkins. A detached house with two reception rooms, three bedrooms and an integral garage is £325,000 at Howkins.

Top rung

Howkins is selling several large detached houses with two or three receptions and four or five bedrooms on large plots for about £620,000. Considerably more expensive at £975,000 is a three-reception, four-bed house with indoor swimming pool, games room, office, play room and gardens to four sides.

New in the centre

Knight Frank is selling city-centre flats in Beauchamp House, a David Wilson Homes development, from £119,950, and 12 newly completed one- and two-bed flats in Chase Midlands' Osborne House development, from £135,000 to £269,500.

New suburban

In Wolston, south-east of Coventry, Wimpey's 124-unit Bluemel Park has two-bed flats from £132,995 (024 7654 0595).

Estate agents

Connells, 024 7655 3093; Howkins & Harrison, 024 7622 7384; Hawkins, 024 7625 7281; Knight Frank 01789 269853.

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