The regional funding agency who pulled the plug on £4million worth of funding for the Friarsgate development in Lichfield have admitted it was a “difficult decision”.
The admission came from an Advantage West Midlands spokesperson after The Lichfield Blog revealed yesterday that they had decided not to commit to the redevelopment of Lichfield city centre.
It was a decision which was criticised by Council Leader David Smith and left Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant wondering if there was a future for the scheme.
“These are tough times for the economy and we’ve had to make some difficult investment decisions during the update of our Corporate Plan, requested by Government in response to the recession. Friarsgate is one of those difficult decisions.
“We recognise the importance of the project. However it is mainly a retail-led scheme and, as everyone knows, at the present time retailers and developers are struggling to secure private-sector finance. In the present climate we are having to focus all our efforts on projects that make maximum impact in the short to medium term – protecting jobs and businesses.”
However, developers S Harrison played down suggestions that interest in the scheme has been falling away.
A spokesperson for the company said:
“Retailer interest in Friarsgate remains high. It is the current banking situation that has delayed the project, not the lack of occupier interest. Indeed, we have spoken to many of the key retailers in the last month and they all remain committed to Friarsgate and want a store in the scheme as soon as possible.”