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Report insists Friarsgate is crucial to Lichfield’s long term ability to compete with other towns and cities

A planning report has warned that Friarsgate is crucial to ensuring Lichfield is able to compete with other towns and cities across the Midlands.

The comments were made as part of a report into proposed changes to the planned multi-storey car park.

An artist’s impression of the new Friarsgate development

The document – which recommends backing the alterations – says that the city needs to ensure it can “compete as a strategic centre within the West Midlands”.

“The scheme [Friarsgate] has a lengthy history of evolution,” the report states. “Over that time the basic principle of the scheme has not altered, but the composition of uses and various levels of detail have clearly been informed by various studies and consultation.

“However, at the heart of the issue is the clear need for Lichfield to compete as a strategic centre within the West Midlands.

“In coming years, adjacent centres are proposed to expand further and unless Lichfield competes equally, the current trade retention could reduce further, thus damaging the existing retailers and businesses of the city.

An artist’s impression of the new Friarsgate development

“The current scheme is of a scale that will allow Lichfield to retain a more commensurate level of its trade, as well as providing much needed facilities such as leisure, cinema and gym, required to serve the local population – a population that is expanding and which expects to meet its basic needs within the city, rather than having to visit neighbouring centres.”

The comments follow those of Lichfield District Council leader Mike Wilcox, who admitted to LichfieldLive last week that “a challenging retail market” had been to blame for delays to the long-awaited project.

Much of the city centre redevelopment scheme has been clouded in secrecy in recent months, with a number of meetings to discuss it held behind closed doors.

A council report had originally hoped construction would start in 2017 – a target that came and went, despite test bore holes being drilled.

But the latest planning changes to the car park facility will offer some glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel.

The original proposal had been for entrances and exits to the new facility to be on both Frog Lane and Birmingham Road.

But a new proposal has suggested Frog Lane should not be used as an exit, while the Birmingham Road exit would now comprise of two lanes instead of one.

Internal changes are also being proposed, including the use of separate up and down rather than shared ramps. The changes would mean the overall capacity of the car park would drop from 505 to 497.

The report will be discussed at a meeting of Lichfield District Council’s planning committee on April 9.

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  1. Roy Appleby

    3rd April, 2018 at 10:51 am

    I would be interested to see the proposed road infrastructure for entry and exiting Friarsgate?
    Is that possible ?

  2. Darryl Godden

    3rd April, 2018 at 10:54 am

    Blimey, that 10 year old design was dated when it was produced. They should wait 30 years and see if the box style come back in fashion.

    I mean what can we say? We know the finances are an issue, but we have no detail, I’m not sure whether this is solely down to the secret meetings, but it can’t have helped. Secrecy just breeds suspicion and Mike Wilcox should come down from his ivory tower.

  3. Concerned Citizen

    3rd April, 2018 at 3:59 pm

    This report is making Lichfield DC a bigger laughing stock. Over 10 years in the planning and we have problems on this project to do with funding, vehicular access and parking.
    Mike Wilcox should step down as Leader and give a younger, more able, Councillor the opportunity to bring this Council & the City into the 21st Century and deliver services desired by the electorate. He demonstrates the skills of an old-style, small-time bank manager – grey, uncommunicative, undemanding, and full of own importance – and has no concept of what is needed to lead a modern city.
    What a pity the local elections do not take place until 2019 but maybe we can hope the other octogenarians on the council will wave their sticks at Mr Wilcox and overthrow him….wouldn’t that be a surprise? Maybe one of the younger Councillors – Eadie, White, Smith, Pullen – could lead the coup and become the Beloved Leader? Here’s hoping.

  4. Steve

    5th April, 2018 at 8:26 am

    The council amaze me. There is not the money to start, let alone complete the project. Yet, they are commissioning reports on the car parking.

    Is this linked to the B&M car park?

    Are the council giving the developers a way to make money from car parking as they will not be able to make money from the actual units. Get rid of the B&M car park. Give Friarsgate the only real car parking and then give them the ability to charge a fortune for it and try and make money from that.

    There is a want for more and more people to visit Lichfield. The trains are at/ over capacity for large periods of the day. Bus services are being cut. The local roads network is coming to a standstill. How are they all supposed to get here?

  5. Ann

    5th April, 2018 at 7:53 pm

    Eadie or Smith, Concerned Citizen? You are joking?

  6. Concerned Citizen

    10th April, 2018 at 12:37 pm

    Deadly serious Ann. What wonderful citizens they are, with the interests of the Lichfield citizens at their heart….like all our councillors.

  7. AgitatorofPeople

    10th April, 2018 at 2:26 pm

    This is what happens when a council entirely populated by one party is in charge, no oversight or scrutiny, they close ranks and start believing in their own propaganda. This council has been broken and underperforming for years yet Lichfieldians keep voting for them. They have the council and its poor service that it deserves.

  8. Steve

    15th May, 2018 at 4:34 pm

    Scheme Lichfield Town Centre
    Region Midlands
    Acqn Date July2011
    GDV £80m
    Max U&I Equity £7m
    Profit Range £4 – 5m
    Timeframe FY2019
    Planning Application Secured

    Page 15.

    This document was created in 2016 and expected completion in FY2019

    Has now changed to

    Schme Friarsgate, Lichfield UK,
    Acqn Date July 2011
    GDV £80m
    Profit Range,U+I Equity £5-7m,£7m (max)
    Timeframe FY 2020
    Planning Status Secured
    Rates (PSF) Resi: £300, Office: N/A, Retail: £30
    Scheme details. 2.8 acres; PPP to provide a new mixed-use centre comprising retail,
    leisure and residential uses

    Page 38

    So the timeframe has been moved back another year to FY 2020.

    They also expect to get 10 times as much money PSF, for residential as they do for retail. Why would any business then build something and get far less return on their money?

    So, have we been lied to? Or are our councillors so incompetent, they have been misled and out of their depth?

  9. Steve

    16th May, 2018 at 8:40 am

    It is also worth noting, this has now become a PPP scheme.

    Basically PFI under a different name. The council pay huge amounts of money for the next 25 years and the developers get all the profits.

    To use the words of our MP. Seems the council have taken us all for twats.