Coventry students were given an insight into the construction industry at a major new development in the city.

Seven Year-10 pupils from Ernesford Grange Community Academy visited the construction site of The Co-operative and were given a tour of landmark regeneration project by award winning developers EDG Property.

They got to look around the site and then had the opportunity to quiz staff about the process of completing the development, which will feature high specification apartments, café bars and restaurants and office space.

Gurpreet Bhatt was one of the students on the visit and holds ambitions to be a site manager after he finishes his studies.

“I saw all the building sites around the city, I was curious and decided to take up the construction course,” said Gurpreet.

“Compared to other careers, I feel like in construction you are having more of an impact, like building houses for a variety of people.

“I think being a construction site manager is something I would like to do after school.

“From trips like this we learn how a site actually works. We see how the team focus on different areas and spread the workload. It shows how you can use the skills you learn in class in practical building.”

The construction course has been running for 10 years at the school and upon completion the students receive a qualification equivalent to a GCSE.

Ernesford Grange Community Academy is one of the few schools in the region that offers a construction course and teacher Peter Kobrin believes courses like this are vital for the future of the industry.

He said: “There is a shortage of skills in industries like construction and engineering. There aren’t the people coming through that have the necessary skills and we try to play our role in helping young people learn the skills they need.

“It’s important that we have courses like this as it looks after the future of the construction industry.

“We can’t always show them everything in the classroom. The site visit exposes students to an actual construction site and helps them to learn more about the techniques and materials.

“Year on year we see more people taking the course, it is a very popular course to be taken at our school.”

The Co-Operative is set for completion in the first quarter of 2019 and EDG Property commercial director Gareth Edwards says it is crucial that more young people seek careers in construction to enable developments like this to continue.

Gareth said: “A wide range of skills are required on site and we need to make sure more young people are coming into the industry to cater for these skills.

“The course they offer at the school is fantastic. Students learn a lot of valuable knowledge in the classrooms but for them to also be able to come onto site and see it all happening is incredibly informative for them.

“We have a number of sub-contractors who are in their early 20s and 30s starting their own businesses and we are seeing them come through which is really good news for the industry.”


(Picture caption: Pupils from Ernesford Grange Community Academy on a tour of The Co-Operative in Coventry)

The early success at Coventry’s most ambitious mixed-used, city centre development should give a confidence boost to the city.

That is the view of Councillor Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration, who was speaking at the topping out ceremony of EDG Property’s The Co-Operative development in Corporation Street.

The event was held to commemorate the work so far and to show off the glass roof that will allow natural light into the Midlands’ only development with an internal park area.

The Co-Operative, which is set to be finished by next spring, has been an overwhelming success with 25 per cent of the luxury, high-specification apartments already sold, the first company has moved into office space and the first restaurant – Steakout – has been announced for the ground floor.

Councillor O’Boyle said the property had been the subject of interested developers of student accommodation but said the council was determined that the “building and the spirt of the building” should be retained.

He said: “The Co-Op closed in 2015 and everyone had fond memories of the old department store – I bought my very first flat cap and my first pair of boots for work here! There was something for everyone – but it was of its time.

“We had an offer from another developer to knock down the existing building to turn it into a high rise student block, but that just wasn’t right for this particular site.

“As soon as I met Neil Edginton of EDG and chatted to him about his plans, it made absolute sense to me that this was the right option for the Co-Op building.

“You could see the vision. He was willing to invest his heart and his time in Coventry and also to invest his own money here to do something very special.

“It gives us a massive amount of confidence that developers are ready to invest in our city and this was before, of course, we’d won UK City of Culture.

“This is a massive statement of intent from Neil and everyone at EDG, it’s a massive statement of intent from the city and I am sure this is the first of many great collaborations we are going to work on together.”

Neil said the scheme was attracting strong interest from both a commercial and residential point of view.

He said: “People are very keen to know what’s going on here – it’s a building that is already held with great affection and we understand that.

“We’ve deliberately made life hard for ourselves because we wanted to include elements such as the internal park to make the development extra special and we are creating the highest spec residential units in the city.

“The success so far shows that both individuals and businesses want to be part of that and we are very grateful for all of the support we’ve had.

“This event was a chance to say thank you to those who have supported us so far and to show people where the development is at as we go into the summer.

“We have got 10 months to go on the build programme so, by next spring, we will be here again having a proper celebration of the completion of the scheme.”

Pictured (left to right): Martin Yardley – Deputy Chief Executive (Place) Coventry City Council, Neil Edginton and Cllr Jim O’Boyle

A growing café bar company has signed up to be part of a major new development in Coventry.

Café Morso, an independently run company, has five venues across the Midlands and will make Coventry its sixth when it moves into The Co-Operative – a landmark regeneration project being undertaken by award-winning EDG Property.

The cool café serves coffees and teas during the day along with breakfasts, cakes and lunches, but then offers a mix of beers and gins in the evening on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

It will also offer live, acoustic music on Saturday nights.

The overall investment in the project from Café Morso will be over £200,000 and will create between 15 and 20 jobs.

Andy Rance, the founder of Café Morso, said he decided to invest in The Co-Operative after seeing the profile of the city grow after becoming UK City of Culture 2021.

He said: “We started out a few years ago with one café in Colwall which is in picturesque countryside the Malvern area.

“Over the past couple of years we’ve been growing and added a further four venues in the Midlands. I got introduced to Neil Edginton of EDG Property and he showed me the vision for The Co-Operative and also what the company had done with The Cube and The School Yard in Birmingham.

“Also, it’s a very exciting time for Coventry. I saw so much coverage about it being the UK City of Culture and you can certainly feel that there is a buzz about the city.

“The café scene is a growing market so we have to differentiate ourselves and also find places that are fresh and new that can help us to stand out from the crowd.

“We offer a relaxed atmosphere with a traditional café feel in the day with coffees, tea and great food and then, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, we become more of a bar in the evening.

“We serve a range of beers and gins – we even host gin-tasting evenings – and also present live acoustic music on Saturdays so we feel we get the balance right and develop a customer-base where people want to come back again and again.”

The deal comes one the back of a successful preview night of the latest phase of apartments to be released at the scheme.

Neil Edginton said the arrival of Café Morso was a big tick in the box for The Co-Operative.

He said: “The development is something very different for Coventry. We are keeping a lot of the 1950s architecture but, at the same time, creating the highest-spec apartments the city centre has seen.

“Café Morso is the perfect fit for the development and we are very much looking forward to welcoming the company to the city.”