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Lichfield must “work harder” to attract more tourists to the city

A report has admitted that organisations in Lichfield must “work harder” to attract more tourists to the city.

Lichfield Cathedral from Minster Pool. Pic: Andy Malbon

Lichfield Cathedral from Minster Pool. Pic: Andy Malbon and
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The comments come in the draft Lichfield City Centre Development Strategy.

The document calls for a united front from local organisations and attractions.

“An analysis of Lichfield’s assets, facilities and tourism statistics supports a general impression that the visitor economy in Lichfield is underperforming against its potential, given the city’s impressive history and cultural associations, iconic cathedral, beautiful open spaces and wealth of historic buildings, coupled with its central location,” the draft strategy says.

“Despite receiving over 2.5 million visits per year, which support over 2,300 jobs, and seeing recent growth in visitor spending, Lichfield falls behind most comparable cathedral cities in the number of overnight stays, and is much less well known.

“The consultation behind this strategy revealed significant local confidence in the city and its future. However, there is a strong recognition that the local authorities, cathedral, other local institutions and local businesses need to work harder to recognise their mutual interests and coordinate their actions in delivering and promoting an integrated and high quality visitor experience.

“Put simply, the vision is for Lichfield to fully deliver on its potential as a historic cathedral city in the centre of England.”

The strategy – which would run until 2020 – aims to create a 5% increase in spending by visitors which, it claims, will boost the local economy by £46million a year and help support an extra 850 jobs.

An artist's impression of the new-look Friarsgate development

An artist’s impression of the new-look Friarsgate development

But it warns that the proposed Friarsgate redevelopment should be designed with the tourist market in mind.

“There should be a programme of enhancement and improvement of the city’s pedestrian routes and public spaces,” the draft document explains.

“The proposed developments at Friarsgate should be carefully designed to provide an attractive gateway to the city which does not detract from the historic centre.

“Fundamentally, however, the strategy underlines the supreme importance of the site currently occupied by Bird Street car park, which has the potential to become a stunning people and event space in the heart of the city and can serve as a potential ‘game change’ for Lichfield.”

The strategy also calls for greater collaborative thinking between some of the city’s historic visitor attractions.

“The cathedral and its Close is the jewel in Lichfield’s crown,” the document adds. “Much more can be made of this through improving visitor experiences and access to a range of different buildings and sites within, and adjacent to, the Close and strengthening the visual and physical linkages to the historic commercial centre of the city.

“A range of actions can be taken to interpret the cathedral more creatively to visitors and to provide new ways to explore and enjoy the building.

“Other heritage attractions in the city centre also have plans to enhance their visitor appeal which should be supported, but a key requirement is to link them more effectively together so that collectively they can have greater impact.”

The number of arts events in the city could also be boosted in coming years if the strategy is adopted.

The report explains: “Consideration should be given to the creation of new events, perhaps building on the unique position of Lichfield in literary and philosophical spheres.

“The Lichfield book prize could be revived and developed on a national scale. Similary, a new Lunar Society event could include a series of debates on major issues.

“More popular events might involve Anglo-Saxon or Civil War themes.

“An events strategy that sets out the benefits and opportunities along with the necessary resources is required.”

A decision on whether to adopt the strategy is likely to be taken at a Lichfield District Council meeting next month.

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1 Comment

  1. Thornton

    23rd November, 2015 at 9:12 pm

    I like this article very much and some of the ideas are interesting however to develop these ideas into reality needs passionate people. ‘if you build it, they will come’ may apply but if the council keep approving sites such as Friary Outer and City Point then no they will certainly not come and Lichfield will be laughed in the face at if they expect anyone would want to spend one minute around that area now. I really do feel sorry for ‘Room to Inspire’, they have one of the best, if not the best shop front in Lichfield and the council go and approve a ghastly development like City Point.

    It’s developers like Charter Management and some people in the Council who really scare me and make me worried that in a few years there will be nothing left which is worth visiting in Lichfield.

    On a positive note though, ideas such as a new lunar society is great but these things need individuals to start them from the ground up not from the top down. Good things always work better from the ground up.