This month we will conclude our three part report on the West Midlands by reporting on the area to the east of Birmingham, including the city of Coventry and the immediate Warwickshire area.
The city of Coventry comprises a metropolitan borough within the West Midlands region. It is the second largest settlement in the West Midlands (after Birmingham) and the twelfth largest city in England with a current population around 345,000. The surrounding county of Warwickshire, which is in separate local authority areas, takes the wider area population to around 550,000. Other significant towns include Nuneaton and Hinckley to the north of the city, plus Royal Leamington Spa and Warwick to the south, which have close economic links to the city and are popular with commuters.
Although part of the West Midlands urban area Coventry is physically separated from it by a sizable rural zone – the Meriden Gap – an area which is coming under intense pressure from commercial and residential development.
The area’s population declined following extensive damage to Coventry in the Second World War and then by industrial decline in the 1970s-80s. However, the population has been growing in recent years, largely as a result of immigration, and in 2014 it was the fastest growing UK city outside London. ONS projections suggest Coventry’s population could grow substantially – by around a fifth to reach 417,000 by 2037.
The city of Coventry itself will participate in the West Midlands devolution programme and a directly elected city region mayor for the entire West Midlands area will be elected, at the head of the West Midlands Combined Authority, in May 2017. There are some concerns locally that the city’s interests will not be fully represented as part of the larger authority, although the leader of the local council has said that the city could receive £568m of investment for city centre development schemes as a result.