Lichfield’s long-awaited Friarsgate development has received a £2.6million boost.
The retail and leisure scheme which will see the transformation of parts of the city centre will be given the money by the Government’s Regional Growth Fund, provided revised plans are approved later this year.
The money will help to redevelop the bus station element of the plans.
Councillor Mike Wilcox, Leader of Lichfield District Council, said: “This is fantastic news for Lichfield and for the planned Friarsgate scheme.
“We’re really looking forward to seeing the new plans for the development later this spring, and if approved, the scheme promises to bring much needed jobs, prosperity and revitalisation to Lichfield City centre. We’re also looking forward to getting local people’s views on the scheme later this year.”
The Friarsgate project aims to revitalise the Birmingham Road area of the city, but has been hit by delays in recent years.
However, the latest boost should move the redevelopment a step closer to reality. It is hoped up to 750 jobs will be created as part of the scheme to provide new routes through to Lichfield’s bus and train stations.
Philip Atkins, the Leader of Staffordshire County Council, said: “Staffordshire has stepped up to the challenge and is on a roll in terms of our delivery of projects which will have a major impact on long-term economic growth and job creation.
“Today’s announcement means people in Lichfield and the surrounding areas can look forward to regeneration and greater employment and leisure opportunities.
“This is a major development for the city and will enhance its reputation as a leading location to live, work and visit. The expansion of our Growth Deal is further recognition by the Government of our commitment to create employment and our ability to get the job done where major projects are concerned.”
The Friarsgate plans were revised in the wake of the economic downturn. However, a revised proposal will now be put to councillors in the coming months. If they give it the thumbs up, Development Securities, the company set to work on the project, will submit a new planning application later in the year.
Councillor Steve Norman, Leader of the Labour opposition group on Lichfield District Council, said: “I welcome the grant from the Growth Fund which now should enable the scheme to go ahead. It is smaller than originally planned and compromises have been made, but of course it is good news for residents in the District and Lichfield City in particular.
“We are still awaiting some progress in Burntwood for a much smaller but much more vital retail development. But until the economy improves for this kind of development we won’t be getting any news I suspect before May 7.”