The Precinct - Place Making in Coventry

The Precinct is part of the shopping centre in Coventry. Designed by the City Architect, Sir Donald Gibson, it was mostly complete in it's original form in 1955.

Where is The Precinct in Coventry?

The Precinct is at the Upper Precinct, Coventry CV1 1NQ and the Lower Precinct Shopping Centre, Coventry, CV1 1NQ.


In brief

The Precinct is part of the central shopping area in Coventry City Centre.

It was designed by the City Architect, Sir Donald Gibson.

His original vision was completed in 1955. 

As of 2021, there have been changes made to the Upper Precinct, made during the UK City of Culture 2021 awarded to Coventry.

The Upper Precinct, Coventry. Photography by Daniel Sturley.


The Precinct, Coventry - history

The area was originally part of Smithford Street, records of which dating back to at least the 1300s. It ran diagonally across what is now Upper Precinct, from Broadgate down towards Fleet Street and Spon Street, once home to the medieval Bull Inn. By the late 1800s the street had become a popular shopping area. Tram lines were installed on the street by March 1905, with two extensions from Broadgate to Earlsdon and Allesley Road via Smithford Street and Spon Street were opened. The area suffered heavy damage during the Blitz and was radically redesigned by Donald Gibson. Architects actually had plans for a new pedestrian precinct before the Second World War.

Donald Gibson plaque

The Architects Vision, Upper Precinct, Coventry (April 2014). Photography by Elliott Brown


Post-war redevelopment

By 1948 there was plans for an upper level, it was also apparent that they wanted a vista of the Old Cathedral spire.

St Michaels Tower Upper PrecinctSt Michael's Tower at the ruined Coventry Cathdral seen from the Upper Precinct (February 2020). Photography by Elliott Brown


Eventually a two level layout was built, but it always caused problems with retailers in Coventry. Shoppers were reluctant to climb stairs or slopes. It was similar to the Festival of Britain of 1951, with new minimalist pedestrianised precinct. In it's original form, The Precinct, designed by City Architect, Sir Donald Gibson was completed in 1955. Eventually as time progressed, escalators were installed surrounded by glass walls. These were probably installed by the 1990s. With the Cathedral Lanes Shopping Centre completed at Broadgate in 1990, the statue of Lady Godiva was turned 90 degrees to face the Upper Precinct.

Lady Godiva to the Upper PrecinctCathedral Lanes view beyond the Lady Godiva statue at Broadgate towards the Upper Precinct, Coventry (April 2014). Photography by Elliott Brown


Upper Precinct CoventryArtwork celebrating Coventry 2021 at the Upper Precinct, Coventry (March 2018). Photography by Elliott Brown


21st century refurbishment

As of 2020-21, these ramps and escalators were cleared for a new modern version of The Precinct, with outdoor fountains that kids can run into. Work is still in progress, so despite Coventry 2021 UK City of Culture being on, it is not yet complete.

Upper Precinct CoventryThe new look Upper Precinct towards the Lower Precinct in Coventry (June 2021). Photography by Elliott Brown

Project dates

09 Aug 2021 - On-going


History & heritage, Shopping, People & community
Squares and public spaces

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Jonathan Bostock

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