Over on my Twitter page, I asked what the future of Lichfield’s Woolworths site might be.
I didn’t have to wait long for Lichfield District Council to Tweet (as they call it) me back. It turns out that the council are already seeking public opinion
On their website the Council say:
The Bird Street car park has a unique and attractive location. It is a relatively tranquil area due to its proximity to Minster Pool and the Memorial Gardens. Development of the site with a mixture of uses and associated environmental improvements will contribute not only to the attractiveness of the site but to the city centre as a whole.The site lies within the conservation area and is also in close proximity to a number of listed buildings, making the site quite sensitive to development.
So what does this really mean? Well, put simply, the future of the Woolworths site could well hang on how it fits into the wider historical landscape of Lichfield.
And this is where the problem lies. Lichfield has some stark decisions to make. If it continues to market itself as Historical Lichfield, then it needs to be consistent with that message throughout all of its planning – no more TJ Hughes-style developments. Instead it should stick to it’s ‘traditional’ values when planning new shops and attracting new outlets and look to put together an independent feel to the city centre.
But if it isn’t willing to apply this sort of structure, then the historical and traditional nature of the surroundings simply cannot be allowed to dictate the level of opportunities a site like this provides.
Put simply, Lichfield cannot have it both ways. Stick in the past or develop for the future. And the people of Lichfield MUST have their say. If you don’t then your voice of complaint afterwards will count for nothing.