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Lichfield MP: Friarsgate scheme could be dead

Michael Fabricant MP

Michael Fabricant MP

Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant has admitted the Friarsgate development could be “dead” after a major source of funding was pulled from the project.

Advantage West Midlands confirmed that they would not be providing funding to the redevelopment of the city centre after a review of their projects.

But  Mr Fabricant, who was told the news by Advantage West Midlands’ Chief Executive Michael Laverty, admitted that the blow could be a chance to look at alternative ideas for the scheme.

He said:

“This is disappointing news though with the economic downturn, I am not surprised.  I have known for some time that the shopping centre developer has been experiencing difficulties finding stores willing to expand into Lichfield and elsewhere.  This is a national problem and I fear this means that Friarsgate is dead in its planned form for the foreseeable future.

“While some who have objected to the development will rejoice, I am now keen to encourage Lichfield District Council to have a total rethink and examine alternative schemes which will provide the shops we need without having a negative impact on the character of our Cathedral City.  I hope the Council will treat this unfortunate set-back as an opportunity.  ‘Friarsgate Mark 2’ could be a real and quality asset to our city and be built in-keeping with our historic city heart.  A few similar towns and cities have achieved this – we could too.”

Mr Fabricant has already suggested to Council decision makers that a major retailer could help redefine Lichfield city centre.

John Lewis is currently rolling out a number of smaller John Lewis at Home stores across the country and the Lichfield MP believes the city would be the ideal home for such a store.

“I have already encouraged the Council to make contact with John Lewis who are now launching up to 30 smaller ‘stand alone’ department stores in the UK – despite the recession.  These stores are like their larger cousins, but will not stock clothing so will not damage local traders.  Nor will they be dependent on being part of some huge development.

“I have given the names of key John Lewis personnel to the Council and I know they are making contact with the employee-owned company who already have a successful track-record of trading in Lichfield with their Waitrose supermarket.”

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  1. Tax Payer

    2nd July, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    Why not get rid of the car sales by the bus station and use it as a free 2 hr car park?
    It could be done on the cheap .OH dear cheap &free the council will not like this idea!

  2. Pingback: Lichfield District Council Leader insists Friarsgate scheme will go ahead