A major fundraising drive has been launched to create the first extension to the new Coventry Cathedral since it opened in 1962.

The ambitious plans for the Cathedral Pavilion have been inspired by Sir Basil Spence’s original proposals for the unbuilt Christian Service Centre at the building which attracts over 300,000 visitors from across the world each year.

A new education space, a larger café, new toilets which will be accessible directly from the main level of the Cathedral Nave and a passenger-operated lift to access the lower level gallery and link to the café and Cathedral Nave have been awarded planning permission by the Cathedrals’ Fabric Commission for England and Coventry City Council.

The new Cathedral Pavilion is phase one of a four-phase project as part of the work at the Grade I listed Coventry Cathedral in time for the city being UK City of Culture in 2021.

A fundraising drive to raise a total of £3.5 million needed to carry out all the plans has now been launched with £772,000 having already been secured from the Government’s Local Growth Fund through the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) and £1.45 million from other funders.

The Dean, the Very Reverend John Witcombe, said this exciting scheme would improve accessibility for wheelchair users and upgrade facilities for visitors and school pupils.

He said: “I am delighted that we are preparing to make our unique building fully welcoming and accessible to increased numbers of visitors in preparation for the celebrations of 2021 and beyond.

“These very necessary developments mark a new stage in our history, as this is the first major building project since the new Cathedral was opened in 1962.

“We will be seeking support from partners to enable us to take the project forward, and to fulfil its full potential in readiness for the role the Cathedral will be expected to play at the heart of the City of Culture.

“The works are transformational and necessary to position the Cathedral as a major social, cultural and community hub for the city as well as creating a modern, flexible and accessible space offering a warm welcome to all.”

Minister for Local Growth Jake Berry MP said: “We’re committed to boosting economic growth across the Midlands Engine and rebalancing the economy so that it works for everyone.

“That is why I am really pleased to see £772,000 from the Government’s Local Growth Fund helping to make these exciting plans for the Cathedral a reality. With new facilities and improved access, the plans will improve the visitor experience for the local community and tourists alike which is particularly important as Coventry prepares to celebrate being UK City of Culture in 2021.”

Helen Peters, board director at the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) leading on culture and tourism, said: “This is an historic development at a building which is renowned throughout the world and the allocation from the Local Growth Fund will play a part in creating a new chapter in its future.

“This is an important time for Coventry with 2021 on the horizon when we are bestowed with the honour of being UK City of Culture and the development plans will give even more audiences the chance to enjoy this wonderful building.”

Businesses or individuals interested in supporting the project are urged to contact Matt Feeley, Coventry Cathedral’s Fundraising Manager, on 02476 521226 or email matt.feeley@coventrycathedral.org.uk

The Cathedral’s new ‘Pavilion’