Coventry factory to make way for new homes and jobs

L-R: Wayne Currie, project director for APL; Mike Stoddart and Ian Wharton of RVA Consulting Engineers at the Little Heath Works site in Coventry.

L-R: Wayne Currie, project director for APL; Mike Stoddart and Ian Wharton of RVA Consulting Engineers at the Little Heath Works site in Coventry.

A familiar Coventry City landmark is set to disappear with the demolition of the former Courtaulds factory in Little Heath.

The 40-acre Little Heath Works in Old Church Road is to be cleared for regeneration, which will potentially see new homes and jobs coming to the locality, as well as a new public open space.

The factory, which dates back to the 1920s, has been disused since 2007, and parts of it have been out of use for more than 20 years.

The decision to demolish it has been taken following an unsuccessful attempt by the current owner, Acetate Products Ltd (APL), to sell the site for redevelopment, because of the economic downturn.

Wayne Currie, Project Director for APL, said: “The factory has come to the end of its useful working life and we need to move forward with a new plan for the site.

“Clearing the site will help its future saleability, and depending on how it is redeveloped, it will hopefully once again help bring prosperity to north Coventry.”

The factory began life more than 80 years ago, as part of Courtaulds. Coventry was the company’s home base, and Little Heath Works was an important manufacturing site, focusing on the production of acetate yarns and filter tow.

At its height in the 1950s and 1960s, Little Heath Works employed circa 5,000 staff, many of whom were recruited from the surrounding area.

However, the factory’s fortunes waned in the 1980s and by 1992 its workforce had dwindled to just 450.

At around this time, Courtaulds was split into two parts, textiles and chemicals, with the latter part of the business being merged with Akzo Nobel in 1998.

Production at the site continued and became the responsibility of APL, the manufacturing side of which business was sold to Celanese Acetate in January 2007. In May 2007 Celanese announced plans to cease production there later that year with the loss of 120 jobs.

Today, only a small maintenance and security staff are left on site, which is still owned by APL.

The majority of the buildings on the site have been cleared of equipment and are now empty.

The 200ft chimney stack at the Little Heath Works site

The 200ft chimney stack at the Little Heath Works site

The most notable structure on the site is a 200 ft chimney stack, which will be removed as part of the demolition process, which is expected to take eight months to complete. All 90 of the buildings and structures on the site except the gatehouse and associated offices will be demolished.

The demolition contractor is a national firm, Lee Demolition. Lee has recently been involved in demolishing similar sites in the Midlands, notably the old Longbridge car plant, Birmingham, and the former Goodyear tyre works in Wolverhampton.

The demolition works, due to being on 17 August , will be project managed by RVA Consulting Engineers Ltd, who are the UK’s leading specialists in decommissioning such sites.

As yet, the future of the site beyond demolition has not been decided – its redevelopment depends in part on the views of the local council. The site also falls within the North Coventry/Foleshill regeneration area.

Mr Currie said: “No master plan for the site has been developed or submitted, but we believe that the council will be prepared to support redevelopment of the main body of the site.

“However, the redevelopment options for the site have not yet been discussed or confirmed with the council.

“We anticipate being able to be more specific about the likely redevelopment of the site early next year.

“Additionally, during the demolition phase we will be ensuring that health and safety will be paramount, and residents living in close proximity to the site will be kept fully informed about what is going on.”

ENDS

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