The Phoenix Initiative is the name given to Coventry City Council's Millennium scheme. In Coventry the phoenix has risen from the ashes a number of times since the war, but this is the first time that conservation and archaeology have played a fundamental role in city centre regeneration. I quickly realised that this project was going to be a once-in-a lifetime opportunity for a local authority conservation officer. My job was to organise and coordinate all the heritage aspects of the project. 1 took it on with equal amounts of relish and trepidation. It helped that our office was involved from the very beginning.
One of our urban designers, Andy Telford, conceived the idea of a direct processional route from the cathedrals area (we have three) to the Museum of British Road Transport. The brief was to connect the historic core around the cathedrals with the great repository of artefacts that epitomise 20th century Coventry: cars. The direct line ran over the site of the cathedral and Benedictine priory of St Mary's, the buildings destroyed and lost from sight following the dissolution. St Mary's was known to few outside or in the city.
The project was to fulfil another long-term aim: reviving interest and raising local and national awareness that Coventry was a city of three cathedrals (of which the Phoenix Initiative did not affect the latter two).
Lady Herbert's Garden - Hales Street, Coventry, United Kingdom