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Let’s move to Coventry: ‘It’s the next UK city of culture’


What’s going for it? Little-known fact: did you know that all newspaper articles about Coventry by law have to mention Lady Godiva, Ghost Town by The Specials and the blitz?

So now we’ve got those out of the way, we can move on. Of course it’s hard to avoid the latter. Coventry was so heavily bombed on 14 November 1940, the shadow still looms large. It is unavoidable in the architecture, almost everywhere you look. The rebuilt centre became a potent symbol of Britain’s postwar renewal, its glorious new cathedral loaded with spiritual meaning linked to reconciliation and forgiveness.

But a city cannot be entirely defined by one event, however significant. Next year, Coventry will become UK city of culture, hoping for the investment, headlines and hullaballoo that attended the previous two holders of the title, Hull and Derry. One can be circumspect about such boosterish events. But they can allow other narratives and cultures to be unearthed and celebrated, beyond the stereotypes. Coventry’s programme for 2021 will be announced in the autumn – and let’s hope it moves beyond the humdrum of cultural quarters, nice coffee and property development. With its richly diverse population and fabulous modernist architecture, the city needs to shout its many histories from its beautiful rooftops.

The case against Some don’t like the postwar architecture. Me? I’m more down on what has been done to the city from the 1980s to the noughties. Either way, the city has had a few decades as a petri dish for urban planning.

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Well connected? Trains: to Birmingham New Street (21 mins) and Birmingham International for the airport (11 mins); Leamington Spa (11 mins); and London Euston (fastest 64 mins). Driving: wreathed in dual carriageways, and with the M6 passing to the north; a half hour drive to the M1 and the M42 to the west, half hour to central Birmingham, 20 mins to Warwick.

Schools Primaries: many rated “good” by Ofsted, with Sacred Heart Catholic “outstanding”. Secondaries: most are “good”, with Finham Park, Sidney Stringer, Eden Girls’ and President Kennedy “outstanding”.

Hang out at… The Broomfield Tavern in Earlsdon for its wonderful real ales; Arabian Bites, run by refugees, for vegan/vegetarian food.

Where to buy You’ll find postwar “new town” suburbs, but Victorian terraces and 1920s estates dominate. Most popular and priciest are the suburbs south-west, towards Warwick University, such as Earlsdon, Cheylesmore, Finham and Stivichall, with handsome Victorian to 1930s streets. Further in, Spon End/Chapelfields has Victorian terraces and townhouses. Large detacheds and townhouses, £400,000-£1m. Detacheds and smaller townhouses, £175,000-£400,000. Semis, £120,000-£600,000. Terraces and cottages, £100,000-£400,000. Flats, £75,000-£300,000. Rentals: a one-bedroom flat, £525-£1,100pcm; a three-bedroom house, £750-£1,600pcm.

Bargain of the week Three-bed Victorian detached by Longford Park, needs central heating and updating; £180,000 at coopersestateagents.com.

From the streets

Chris Arnot ‘An abundance of green spaces, including a great swathe of the Forest of Arden.’

Sally Waterson ‘A multicultural, forward-looking city, with a youthful population.’

● Live in Coventry? Join the debate below.

Do you live in Bridgnorth, Shropshire? Do you have a favourite haunt or a pet hate? If so, email lets.move@theguardian.com by Tuesday 25 February.

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