Contractor announced for Coventry Cathedral extension project

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A contractor has been announced to build a multi-million pound extension to Coventry Cathedral – the first in its history.

The project will see the building of a new pavilion annexe, as part of a £3.5m fundraising programme.

The facility will include a new café and a new education centre.

Harrabin Construction from Coventry has won a tender process to carry out the work.

The annexe has been designed by Kelley Christ, the cathedral’s appointed architect from A&RMÉ, a practice specialising in the conservation and revitalisation of modern listed buildings

The project involves moving the Swedish windows by Einar Forseth into the new build from their current position on the outside wall of the cathedral.

How the pavillion extension will look on the south side of Coventry Cathedral

The windows will be taken off site for preservation and repair by York Glaziers Trust during the build period.

The annexe will include creating 12 step-free accessible toilets which will include a disabled facility and separate baby changing facilities, a passenger operated lift to the lower floor where a café is situated and a new education centre which will also be used for community and external events.

In 2018, around 16,000 pupils visited the cathedral with their schools and the new education centre will allow students to take part in pastimes such as messier craft activities which currently can’t be provided since there are no moppable floors and few hand-washing facilities.

The building will also benefit from direct access on the north and south sides when other areas are busy.

The £3.5m scheme has secured £2.2m from the Cultural Capital Investment Fund from Coventry City Council.

It is a consolidated fund of contributions from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, the Government’s Local Growth Fund through the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) and Coventry City Council.

The project has also benefited from £1m in grants or donations from Allchurches Trust, Laing Family Trusts, Friends of the Cathedral, Eranda Rothschild Foundation, Eveson Charitable Trust, Barbara Whatmore Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation, Wolfson Foundation, Glaziers Trust, the Jerusalem Trust, the Armitage Trust and individual donations.

Coventry Cathedral is also grateful for support in kind provided by Wright Hassall who have provided free legal advice for this contract.

The project is part of a wider four-phase programme of improvements to prepare the cathedral for events when Coventry is UK City of Culture in 2021.

The Dean of Coventry, John Witcombe, said: “The 2021 development project at the cathedral is a hugely significant moment for us.

“It will transform the welcome we are able to give people when they visit and we are enormously grateful to all those supporters who are making this possible.”

Coventry Cathedral

Helen Peters, board director at the CWLEP leading on culture and tourism, said: “The annexe is the first major physical change to the new Coventry Cathedral since it opened in 1962 and it will enable even more people from all sections of the community to take part in activities and events or look round this magnificent Grade I listed building.

“The Local Growth Fund was launched to boost the economy and support businesses and this extension will provide a major boost to the cathedral in the short and long-term.”

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Councillor Jim O’Boyle, cabinet member for jobs and regeneration at Coventry City Council, said: “The cathedral has an important place in the hearts of local people and this extension is another step in the regeneration of our city.”

The initial demolition work to clear the site began in February 2020 and the main construction work on the annexe started in June following a break as a result of the pandemic.

The building is expected to be ready in May 2021.


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