Is it any surprise Lichfield’s former Woolworths store is still unoccupied?

Interesting to see that Lichfield is on a long list of former Woolworths stores still without a new tenant. To date, only one store in the region has found a new occupier, more than two months after the historic retailer vanished from the high street.

The Woolworths store in Lichfield. Pic: Rachel Groves

The Woolworths store in Lichfield. Pic: Rachel Groves

The future of the site has been clouded in mystery ever since the demise of Woolworths, but despite reported interest from the likes of Primark, there have been no concrete plans laid out for the store.

But is it any surprise? After all, any potential new tenants would be relatively short-term given that the premises and the surrounding area are set to be redeveloped once the Friarsgate development finally sees the light of day.

In the current climate there aren’t likely to be many companies wanting to invest money in a store which is already a dead duck.

And if the redevelopment wasn’t enough to put potential tenants off, the potential of Friarsgate to draw shoppers away from that area of the city would shorten the store’s shelf-life even more.

Comments made by Councillor John Walker to the Express & Star hit the nail on the head as he calls for the Woolworths area to be redeveloped before Friarsgate, rather than after. He told the newspaper:

“When the Friarsgate opens up it will affect the lower part of the town and if we don’t move now, then they’ll be left high and dry.”

Quite right too. Yes, the city needs a long-term plan, but surely the short-term should see us sorting out the problems we already havewith empty premises rather than planning to add even more retail units?

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Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.

8 Comments

  1. GrovesMedia

    24th March, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    I had wondered whether Tesco might be interested in a short-term let whilst they lay waste to the rest of Lichfield with their new mega-awful superstore.
    After all, they must be seeing a big drop in takings and I’d hate to see their billions in profits dip as a result of ye olde city not pulling its weight.

  2. Nick Brickett

    24th March, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    It’s catch-22 – if Friarsgate opens, it’ll kill business in the lower end of town, but if it doesn’t open then Lichfield is going to remain a stagnant pool of nothingness – both aren’t going to help retail in Lichfield!

  3. Phil

    24th March, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    @Nick You say that but with the housing supply on the rise in Lichfield, wouldn’t that make it a more attractive place for retail outlets whether or not Friarsgate gets built?

    Very good point about redeveloping Woolies before Friarsgate though. There is the opportunity to comment on the development of Bird Street car park through the LDC web site.

  4. Andie McCurdy

    24th March, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    The time required to put in place the investment, planning, design etc.. means that the re-development of the former Woolworth site is never going to done before Friarsgate! Just look how long that’s taken!

  5. Blossom

    24th March, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    I agree entirely that Lichfield City Centre needs some level of redevelopment to attract new business’s and to cater for the increasing population, I do wish however, that the quoted Councillor Mr John Walker could perhaps provide some ideas as to how we get round the unavoidable issue of lack of investment available in to the sector at present? Anybody can state the obvious, but it would be refreshing to be represented by somebody that can provide more answers than questions.

  6. Sammy J

    25th March, 2009 at 8:54 am

    The only danger though, Andie, is that if Friarsgate keeps getting put back and back and then never materialises the city will have wasted far too many years.

    What Lichfield needs right now is a city-wide development plan, not just small pockets of ideas which never seem to meet each other.

  7. Unconcerned Citizen

    27th August, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    I heard a rumour that…
    http://www.bmstores.co.uk/
    have signed up to the old woolies store – but word on the streets can simply be just a rumour

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