An artist's impression of the Friarsgate development

A Liberal Democrat councillor says urgent action is needed to ensure the land earmarked for Friarsgate does not lie derelict for years.

An artist’s impression of the Friarsgate development

The long-awaited city centre redevelopment scheme collapsed last week after the Cabinet at Lichfield District Council voted against footing a £49million bill to ensure it went ahead after private funding failed to materialise.

The demise of the decade-long project has left question marks over land that had already been cleared to make way for Friarsgate, which would have included new retail units, homes and a cinema.

But Lib Dem councillor Paul Ray insists the council cannot let the land blot the city’s landscape for too long.

Paul Ray

Cllr Ray said: “We are now in a total mess and there are serious questions for Cllr Mike Wilcox and the Conservative administration of Lichfield District Council to answer.

“They have to explain how they could let this development progress so far and incur so much cost -including for the demolition of the Kennings Garage site – without the funding being in place for the whole development.

“And more importantly we need an urgent new plan for this site.

“We now have a site in the centre of Lichfield which is in a dreadful and dilapidated state. I am really concerned that it does not remain for years to come an eyesore and just gets into a worse and worse state – urgent action is needed now.”

The demise of Friarsgate comes after sources revealed to LichfieldLive that although the Cabinet had initially sought to back the funding plan, the leadership group opted to vote against the scheme after the wider Conservative group indicated they would not be willing to support the development if it went to a full vote at council.

That led to the resignation of half of the local authority’s Cabinet, including Cllr Iain Eadie who said he believed the council should have stumped up the cash.

But Cllr Ray said he was pleased the money had not been supplied from the public purse.

“It is sad that this project to deliver improved facilities for our district has fallen over, but I’m not surprised and the decision of the council to not borrow £49million to fund it is right.

“The finances just did not stack up. The £49million debt would jeopardise the financial stability of the council and so negatively impact on the residents of Lichfield and Burntwood in the future.”

Only around £6million had been secured for the Friarsgate development, with the majority coming via local enterprise partnerships.

And Cllr Ray believes the council needs to move quick to ensure what little funding has been found is used to support an alternative redevelopment proposal.

“Cllr Wilcox needs to get round the table with these LEPs to ensure that this funding is secured for a new plan for our district,” he said.

“The Friarsgate site musn’t be mothballed for years and years. It has to be developed in particular with improved leisure facilities.

“The Conservatives now need to put together an urgent plan to get us out of this mess.”


Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.

4 replies on “Lib Dem councillor demands urgent action to ensure Friarsgate land in Lichfield does not become an eyesore and lie empty for years”

  1. Flatten the Kennings site and make it a free car park. This would stimulate trade for the shops and increase footfall. Of course this won’t happen as the council only make bad decisions. If we are not very careful some of the prime sites near the city centre will be sold off for peanuts to developers of rest homes or supposedly affordable houses. We council tax payers will foot the bill for years along with inflated rates and reduced services. This council has done much to damage our city. They will probably try and deaf it out in the hope that they get away with it. Big changes are needed and preferably some new councilors with brains.

  2. Maybe they could turn it into a dump for garden waste as the one at the other end of town can’t cope anymore since the brown bin tax.

  3. What about the numerous eyesores the Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Trust leave all over the city for year and years. They carve up land willy nilly, leave projects half completed all in the name of nostalgia. If they can get away with it why can’t the council??

  4. Well I am not saying either Chris or Kenny don’t make fair points. The garden waste issue was a typical cause and affect that the council did not consider. If anything changes there are always knock on affects. As for the canal, it is not really that close to the city centre. I live opposite it and it is not an ‘eyesore. If the council helped pay for the restoration it might prove an asset to the city. I have just watched a programme about Liverpool’s cultural resurrection. We have a lot to learn! But not with a self serving council at the helm.

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