Calls have been made for a “radical rethink” of the Friarsgate shopping development in Lichfield.
Liberal Democrat City Councillor Ian Jackson has said the decision by developers S Harrison to sell their share in the project means it must be reconsidered completely.
In a newsletter distributed to local residents, Cllr Jackson said: “The District Council has been struggling to sell the Friarsgate shopping scheme to retailers for at least six years.
“Despite various alterations to suit changing demands and potential users, we seem no nearer starting.
“Now that the lead developer has finally walked away from the scheme we need a radical rethink to suit the changing retail market.”
The former District councillor’s comments are not the first time questions have been raised about the Friarsgate project.
But rather than axe it completely, Cllr Jackson has called for a more “achievable” solution to be considered.
“The decision was taken many years ago to complete the Friarsgate scheme before the development of the Bird Street car park,” he explained. “This made some sense at the time, but the collapse in demand for retail units means that we are now more likely to get the Bird Street scheme off the ground first.
“A less ambitious, mixed use development of this site with underground car park and an attractive public open space beside Minster Pool would be far more achievable in the current economic climate.
“It would give time for the major changes needed to make the Friarsgate scheme viable.”
But the leader of Lichfield District Council has said their are no plans to rethink the project.
“Retail interest in Friarsgate remains strong, and our development partner, Development Securities, is continuing to advance discussions with major national retailers to anchor the scheme,” said Cllr Mike Wilcox.
“We are keen Lichfield city remains high on the agenda of businesses looking to invest and are working with Development Securities to help drive forward the ongoing revitalisation of Lichfield city centre.”