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Leader reveals Lichfield District Council could provide funding to ensure Friarsgate redevelopment goes ahead

Lichfield District Council could step in to provide the funding to allow the Friarsgate scheme to go ahead, LichfieldLive can reveal.

An artist's impression of the new Friarsgate development

An artist’s impression of the new Friarsgate development

The long-awaited redevelopment of the city centre has struggled to get off the ground, despite sections of the site being cleared and plans to begin work in 2017.

The local authority’s leader, Cllr Mike Wilcox, has now confirmed discussions are taking place to ensure the Friarsgate project does not fall by the wayside.

“The majority of the major Friarsgate milestones are now in place, and we are working with U+I to assemble the final piece of the jigsaw, which is the funding to deliver the scheme,” he said.

“As part of this, councillors were informally briefed on the opportunity for the council to fund the scheme at a meeting on May 22.”

It had previously been anticipated that private backing would be used to make the proposals – which include retail units, a cinema and housing – a reality.

But Cllr Wilcox insisted the decision to potentially use public funding was not an unusual one.

“This is an approach that has been taken by a number of other councils across the country to successfully kick start major developments,” he said.

“No decisions have been made and the opportunity is being explored in greater depth as part of a programme of decision making. The next discussion will take place at a joint meeting of Economic Growth, Environment and Development (Overview & Scrutiny) Committee later this month.”

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21 Comments

  1. Nodge

    24th May, 2018 at 11:39 am

    …and thus, add to our ever-increasing council tax bill.

    No thanks.

  2. Nige

    24th May, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    Surely funding such a project should not be seen as ‘the final piece of the jigsaw’?
    What’s happened to the ‘anticipated’ private backing?

    After spending money on feasibility studies, architectural plans, artists impressions, ejecting perfectly good, longstanding businesses from their premises, the powers that be are only now deciding how to pay for it?

    What a shambles…

  3. Steve

    24th May, 2018 at 12:57 pm

    You have ALREADY agreed this. Look at the change on the U&I website. The project has changed to a PPP scheme. Or PFI under another name.

    Also note U&I’s profit has increased as the scheme has changed.

    P15 http://www.uandiplc.com/~/media/Files/U/U-And-I-PLC-V2/results-and-presentations/2016/investor-site-visit-nov-2016.pdf

    P38 http://www.uandiplc.com/~/media/Files/U/U-And-I-PLC-V2/results-and-presentations/2017/interim-results-presentation-31-aug-2017-18102017.pdf

  4. Flossy

    24th May, 2018 at 1:39 pm

    LDC is taking the mickey!!

  5. Nellygb

    24th May, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    Do these people live under a rock or something. Have they not noticed the troubled times that traditional Bricks and Mortar businesses are going through. What we need least is another development of shops with sky high rents and even bigger rates bills that no one wants or can even afford. Many of the biggest brands are looking at off loading offline stores. There is only so much money to go around and I would hate to see this new development filled with more charity shops, beauty salons, tattoo parlours and eateries, because once the council get involved with anything that requires true business acumen they only have a set in stone method of generating income and that centres around more fines and car park charges exactly what has killed the High Street.

    One thing councils are good at whatever their political persuasion is spending money that ain’t theirs to spend. Here’s a suggestion Cllr Wilcox, you were not given a mandate to do this so don’t. Given you don’t work for the Lichfield City council you were however given a mandate to look after the finances of the district and improve the lot for people in all areas of the district not just in the City.

  6. Darryl Godden

    24th May, 2018 at 4:37 pm

    Just call the whole thing off and build retirement homes, likes the rest of the city.

    The development is so hideously outdated now anyway.

  7. AnnS

    24th May, 2018 at 5:08 pm

    Hear we go again! Council taxpayers money being used for commercial gain. Did LDC learn nothing from the debacle of funding the Garrick Theatre. No wonder it’s all been shrouded in secret meetings. Just where are they getting the money from when we are told there’s never enough in the pot for the necessities. Was this a reason for the brown bin tax? Grey-haired old well-off men leaving a legacy of debt for the younger generation to pay off when they’ll not be around to worry.
    Have they failed to notice that there are too many empty shops now, or do they walk round with blinkers on?
    Couldn’t agree more Nellygb especially about not being given a mandate. This lot need to go, the sooner the better.

  8. Paul Roberts

    24th May, 2018 at 5:24 pm

    Isn’t the funding the first thing that should have been sorted rather than the last?
    Why were Tempest Ford (a thriving business with many employees and a keen supporter of numerous activities in Lichfield) forced to vacate their premises which were demolished if funding was not in place?

  9. Roy Appleby

    24th May, 2018 at 5:47 pm

    Well said Nelly !!!

  10. Cllr Rob Birch

    24th May, 2018 at 6:37 pm

    If developers are not willing to invest in the plans, would that not suggest it is unlikely to be profitable? If it’s not profitable then it is more likely to cost the tax payer money than it is to be cost neutral to the public purse. I suspect the cost of this will run into tens of millions of pounds at the same time as LDC are pleading poverty. Remember the bin tax as they can’t afford to remove garden waste any more?

    This is yet another unnecessary development in Lichfield, at taxpayers expense, using money that could give Burntwood a new Town Centre and most likely pay for the badly needed Health Centre as well.

    People should brace themselves for on-going rises in their Council Tax to pay for this latest Tory white elephant. It appears that Lichfield District Conservatives have been sent a branch from Theresa May’s magic money tree. Either that or we are all about to be robbed blind to pay for another Tory vanity project.

  11. Concerned Citizen

    24th May, 2018 at 7:20 pm

    We don’t need even more cafes etc so why doesn’t LDC come clean and admit that it really wants more residential units for over-55s. Lichfield is a backwater so don.’t try to tart it up with more charity shops. Nelly is right, retail chains are shrinking not expanding so who will Lichfield appeal to going forward. Our Councillors are naive and have been taken for mugs by the developer. Let’s show our dissatisfaction and vote in more numpties next year. The clock is ticking Cllr Wilcox. Power to the People….oh, I forgot, they voted them in originally.

  12. Darryl

    24th May, 2018 at 7:33 pm

    See the boy on the stone seat with his grandpa? Well grandpa is dead and that boy went off to university in a city to get away from it all.

    The elephant in the room for Mike Wilcox is he locked himself behind closed doors and kept reporters and the electorate away from meetings concerning this project. It’s no further on, he’s talking about spending our money to keep the project afloat. His behaviour is pretty disgraceful.

    He has created this air of suspicion.

    It should be an absolute right, when dealing with places where people live and using our money in any project, that people should have an unassailable right to know what is going on.

    Local politics is in desperate need of a clean up.

  13. Mike Sandwell

    24th May, 2018 at 8:34 pm

    The people need to make a stand here, we need to start to pay for our black & blue bins to help pay for Friarsgate, another great idea is to pay extra for the grit bins if you have one, also another cracker is doctor appointments on a pay as you book.
    Then Lichfield will have lots of money available to build this project,
    Think Saint Mathews is closed now

  14. AnnS

    24th May, 2018 at 9:49 pm

    Well said Darryl. I wonder, do any Cllrs read LL?

  15. Sue Woodward

    24th May, 2018 at 10:43 pm

    Yes AnnS. Some of us do. 😉

    Seriously though, I’d encourage all of you expressing concerns to lobby your own local councillors and tell them what you think.

  16. Looby Lou

    24th May, 2018 at 10:44 pm

    Enough! My council tax bill has risen substantially over the last few years and now paying over £2000. Have I noticed an improvement in local services for this? Absolutely not. Youth, elderly and disabled services are being cut. The roads are in a terrible state and schools are begging for funds. Those of us who earn a wage are being squeezed from all directions. I want my money invested in services not more shops I can’t afford to shop in anymore.

  17. AgitatorofPeople

    25th May, 2018 at 9:13 am

    Where did the £2.6 Million from the governments regional development fund go? squandered no doubt on over priced consultancy. Lichfield looks rough, slowly declining, from the run down look of the bus station surrounded by empty shops, the abondoned Police station, the former Tempest Ford site, the hole where a house used to be next to the Council offices. Yet on eastern avenue the old factory was flattened cleared and a retail park is been rapidly constructed.
    Why are we been asked to pay ransom money out of our taxes to a developer who appears to keep shifting their position, knowing they now have the council up against wall to keep this project moving, what an appalling position the council has fumbled its way into, we should have transparency, yet the council choose to treat us like mushrooms, kept in the dark and fed shit.

  18. Dave H

    25th May, 2018 at 10:29 am

    Quite frankly , could not care less if the development went ahead or not , we already have an abundance of eating establishments and coffee shops , and let’s face it, that’s all we were going to get , pretty much like the Mere Green development. the only thing worth building is the Cinema , how many years has this farce been going on for ?.

  19. Kieran Alford

    25th May, 2018 at 11:52 pm

    Regarding the plans for a cinema in the Friarsgate plans surely a perfect compromise which would almost certainly get the unanimous backing off everyone in Lichfield be it councillors politicians and most off all the citizens of Lichfield would to spend the several million pounds planned for Friarsgate on instead investing in restoring the old Regal Cinema/Kwik Save building by taking it back to its roots as a cinema and use the land of Birmingham Road allocated for Feiarsgate for a more scaled back ‘down to earth ‘ small shopping and leisure complex. May I end by saying although I’m not a property developer or investor I realise that in reality high street wise Lichfield is never going to be on a par with the big metropolitan cities in the UK such as Birmingham and Walsall

  20. David Maine

    26th May, 2018 at 6:59 am

    The Council have finally done what they said they would and brought this project to fruition. Get behind the City and the project. This is the chance to invest in the Lichfield and bring,homes, jobs, new bus station, leisure, Cinema & shops for the next generation to enjoy, I think our City is worth investing in.

  21. AnnS

    26th May, 2018 at 8:17 am

    Not yet they haven’t David Maine. All the next generation will enjoy or rather not enjoy is the enormous debt they will be left with, higher taxes and loss of or poorer services. Do you also walk round with blinkers on so don’t see the many empty premises we have. Do we need more? Do we need more places to eat because so far these are the only companies that have said they’ll take up a unit.
    Kieran, me and my partner had this exact conversation. Another building that has stood empty for over a decade.
    Pleased to see that Cllrs do read and comment on LL. Sue l would write to my 3 Cllrs (why my area needs 3 I’ll never understand) if l thought it would make a difference, but l know them personally and it wouldn’t.
    Cllrs Birch, there are those that can’t hear bells no matter how loud they ring.
    If someone organised a protest rally I’d be first in the queue to join.

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