Leader of Lichfield District Council predicts Friarsgate development’s cinema will be a game-changer for the city

The new Friarsgate development will be a game-changer for the city, the leader of Lichfield District Council has predicted.

The long-awaited scheme is currently undergoing “minor revisions” following a public consultation.

Friarsgate will feature new restaurants, shops and apartments as well as a revamped bus station.

But it is the creation of the multi-screen cinema which council leader Mike Wilcox believes can alter the perception of Lichfield for visitors and businesses alike.

An artist's impression of the new-look Friarsgate development

An artist’s impression of the new-look Friarsgate development

“We hope to get an agreement across the line with a cinema operator in the next few weekes,” he told LichfieldLive.

“Once they have signed up then we know from our discussions that many big retailers will join the scheme, because they know a cinema will attract visitors who might have gone to places such as Cannock or Burton in the past.

“It will change the perception of Lichfield as a destination. A six or seven screen cinema will bring people in.

Mike Wilcox

Cllr Mike Wilcox

“The restaurant chains talking to us are looking to come in want Lichfield and help it to become a destination where people can eat, go to the cinema or the Garrick and spend the evening look around the Cathedral.

“We want the city to be a destination incorporating a leisure time, retail spend as well as eating and spending time visiting the area – that’s what we are trying to create through Friarsgate.”

Discussion have been had with local groups, such as Lichfield Civic Society, about the initial plans.

But Cllr Wilcox insisted the feedback had been generally positive.

“The issues have mainly been surrounding the finish of the buildings, so the developers have gone away to draw up some plans with a brick finish rather than a plaster effect,” he explained.

An artist's impression of the new-look Friarsgate development

An artist’s impression of the new-look Friarsgate development

“When they come back we’ll make them available to the public and interested parties to have a look at.

“As it stands, a planning application is still intended to go in by end of the year and we are all systems go, but we want to look at the consultation results fully to make sure we get it right.

“The feedback was mainly positive. Everyone is keen on the idea of new shopping offer, cinema and bus station, but it was just the finishing that some people thought were not in character with the city.”

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15 Comments

  1. Thornton

    6th October, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    A cinema? Really? This isn’t 1990. Who watches movies at the cinema nowadays it’s such old hat. There could be 101 different ideas for that space rather than a cinema. Have they even asked the residents of Lichfield for their ideas?

  2. Darryl

    6th October, 2015 at 6:13 pm

    Cringe at the thought of another multiplex, who care little for the films they show or the customers who view them.

    Why not get someone in who’s going to offer a cinephile experience? Not some ‘hand over fist’ popcorn bucket vendor.

  3. Thornton

    6th October, 2015 at 9:04 pm

    Exactly the reason I’m against this new cinema. Birmingham’s Electric Cinema would be more suited but this would never come from a brand new building and would be suited in an old run down building. Lichfield council will be throwing money away and will be promised the moon by these developers. Brand new Hollywood movies will seem so out of place in Lichfield.

    I hope that as it’s taken so long to Come to any kind of decision over Friarsgate that they won’t just rush it through with bad ideas and ruin the project. I’d rather it take another 10 years to sort if it means they get it right. Or could they not complete it in stages and sort the other areas first such as the bus station and allow the project to evolve over years rather than committing now to everything at once?

  4. Jo Woodward

    6th October, 2015 at 11:31 pm

    If the narrow minded, self absorbed writer of that comment had attended the information days they would know that the proposed cinema was an independant small cinema with 2 screens much like the highly successful Red Carpet Cinema at Barton Marina. A cinema where screenings include smaller and independant movies that rarely get a look in at large cinemas, classic movies, live performances of opera, ballet and theatre and music concerts including Take That.
    As for ‘who goes to the cinema these days’….people like me who enjoy going out and don’t fancy spending all their entertainment time slouched on the settee in front of the television.
    If you are going to object to something at least make an effort to know what you are talking about and don’t pin your argument on assumptions and ignorance.

  5. Thornton

    7th October, 2015 at 8:38 am

    Hi Jo, thanks for the insults. Looks like they’ve changed the idea from whatever they told you to a 5-7 screen cinema and from the masterplan it looks like 7. I do hope it will be how you describe I really do but being placed right in the centre of the town it’s going to have to make quite a lot of money from old re-runs and live-steaming opera to survive.

    To be honest I’m not really too fussed about what will go in that building but more about what the building will look like and would be very upset if it were anything similar to what’s just been thrown together opposite ‘room to inspire’. That kind of architecture should be labelled a criminal offence.

  6. Darryl

    7th October, 2015 at 12:36 pm

    So snarky… And numerous down rates, feel the wrath.

    Perhaps if the information was better distributed? Furthermore the article mentions nothing of the Barton Marina setup, but does directly mention the multiplex I deride.

  7. Thornton

    1st November, 2015 at 9:26 pm

    Would a better use of council funds go towards the creation of a small college which could eventually lead towards the creation of Lichfield’s own centrally located university?

  8. Nomad

    2nd November, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    Why?Lichfield would need a multi-screen cinema is beyond me ,how long untill tax payers are funding that as they do the Garrick,big ideas no demand

  9. Thornton

    2nd November, 2015 at 6:03 pm

    Why somebody would mark down my previous comment baffles me. If you have any ideas why not bring them to light instead of adding nothing to the conversation.

    Surely a serious place for learning would be better than a Hollywood style cinema which would bring nothing educational to Lichfield.

  10. Sammy J

    2nd November, 2015 at 8:47 pm

    Can’t we have both Thornton? The young people of Lichfield have been crying out for a cinema for years and we’ve already got a university.

  11. Thornton

    2nd November, 2015 at 9:07 pm

    Have they? Can’t they just use Tamworth’s 10 minutes down the road? Tamworth is more suited as it has quite a large entertainments area with the snow dome and bowling. I just think there could be better things to send this money on and better ways serve the people of Lichfield than this style of entertainment. Perhaps a small scale, independently run cinema held in an existing building could meet people’s needs for this kind of entertainment rather than using such a large space in the city centre for this.

  12. Jayne

    2nd November, 2015 at 11:33 pm

    Would love to see cinema again in Lichfield. Must be the only city not to have one! Long long overdue. And there is still demand!

    A cinema would be more suitable and be used by people of all ages too.

    Not everyone has the luxery of car travel either. Why should eldery residents be expected to travel out of Lichfield to see a film? And also young people many of which have had their youth clubs closed!

    Get it built please. Would bring in more finance into the city. Thanks.

  13. Sammy J

    3rd November, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    Ten minutes?! More like half an hour after you’ve faffed about finding a parking space in the Odeon’s tiny car park. I agree that Tamworth is more suited to this sort of development but unfortunately a lot of people don’t have access to a car. It’s a pain having to get a bus or plead with family members to give you a lift!

    Some, if not most people still enjoy a good blockbuster on the big screen! I believe that Cineworld in Burton livestreams a lot of theatre and ballet etc as well as the usual Hollywood nonsense. Plus we have the cinema at Barton for people wanting a more intimate experience.

    Lichfield is like a ghost town at night – it would be so nice to be able to go out for a meal on a Saturday, go the cinema then have a few drinks – all without having to leave the city. It’s not fair that Tamworth and Burton get all the benefits of the passing trade. Lichfield has an awesome restaurant scene which could really benefit from the extra cinema footfall.

  14. Darryl

    3rd November, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    Thornton assumes everyone has a car and even in a car, Tamworth Odeon is more than 10 minutes away.

  15. Thornton

    3rd November, 2015 at 9:40 pm

    If a cinema was to be built in Lichfield, I give it 3 years before closure due to lack of ticket sales. 5-7 cinema screens is a lot of seats to fill.