I was born in Coventry during the Second World War and saw the bomb damage and subsequent rebuilding. Crowds thronged the city when the Queen, as Princess Elizabeth, opened Broadgate. Children represented their schools at the unveiling ceremony of the beautiful Godiva statue. Civic pride was instilled in school children, and I remember the virtues or otherwise of the new buildings and the country's first pedestrian precinct being discussed at primary school. The building of the new Coventry Cathedral, however controversial, was exciting, innovative and important to the city: the phoenix rising from the ashes.
By the Eighties, Coventry was succumbing to the worst of consumerism, with motorways carving up the city, Greyfriars Green fragmented by ugly underpasses, endless multi-storey car parks, and evenings shattered by bird-scaring devices. Initially, the Godiva statue stood on its own green island: a rich focal point. Recent developments deprived it of its setting and stuck it under a canopy. Our local Portobello Green has a similar one. It is functionally appropriate for weekend traders' stalls.
Victorians became aware of the need for open spaces, parks and squares. They were the lungs of the city. What has happened in the centre of Coventry is a travesty of planning for an environmentally conscious age. And how many citizens were consulted by the council's planning department? It is outrageously insensitive, and I hope people are protesting to their MPs and
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