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Leader of Lichfield District Council insists spending £1.9m on former police station is a “good investment”

The leader of Lichfield District Council insists spending £1.9million to buy the city’s former police station is a “good investment” – despite it no longer being used for Friarsgate.

The former Lichfield police station building

The former Lichfield police station building

The site had been an integral part of the long-awaited city redevelopment project before it was axed last month after councillors refused to stump up the £49million needed to prop up the project.

Minutes from a previously private meeting of the council reveal that while putting a line through the Friarsgate scheme, councillors did approve a plan to increase the £1.8million budget for the old police station to £1.913million.

Mike Wilcox

Cllr Mike Wilcox

But despite their being no immediate plans to use the site, Cllr Wilcox defended the decision to purchase the land.

“The investment in the police station is a sound and good investment,” he said. “It is a key strategic site on prime land an acquisition to be proud of.

“The police had been due to take a unit in the new development and the change to the figures reflect that this will now not be happening.”

Cllr Sue Woodward

Cllr Sue Woodward

The minutes reveal that only Labour councillors Diane Evans, Sue Woodward, Eric Drinkwater and Sharon Banevicius voted against the proposals to increase the funding for the purchase of the police station.

Cllr Woodward, leader of the opposition group said: “I was surprised and disappointed that all the Conservative members present voted to actually increase the budget for the purchase of Lichfield police station even though no Plan B has yet been considered.

“When I contrast this with the amount of capital spent in Burntwood since 2015, it’s gobsmacking that all of the Tories representing Burntwood wards went along with it.”

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  1. Kieran Alford

    10th July, 2018 at 12:28 pm

    If LDC wish to purchase the former police station and safeguard its future that’s fair enough but personally I hope they use it as a place for the general public of Lichfield rather than just more apartments however without wanting to contradict myself I don’t have a problem with the building becoming affordable and/or social housing flats as long as there are some ‘starter homes’ in the complex rather than just retirement flats

  2. Ross

    10th July, 2018 at 12:39 pm

    Hi Kieran, it’s unlikely that this land will be used for community purposes in the long term. Cllr Wilcox has justified land purchases associated with the now defunct Friarsgate scheme (including this one) by suggesting taxpayers will see a return, either through an increase in land value should it be sold to a developer, or through the provision of a Plan B redevelopment of the city centre. Given Friarsgate has been spent almost 15 years to fall by the wayside, I’ll leave people to make up their own mind as to which way the police station site is likely to go.

  3. Philip Allso

    10th July, 2018 at 2:12 pm

    I think it likely Ross that the site will be used for commercial purposes of some sort. Sad really because Lichfield is losing its identity. It’s culture and history is being sold out to developers. We will become a commuter city feeding mostly Birmingham and/or populated by an older than average population living in retirement establishments. The disposal of the old library was a retragade move and for disputable reasons. The council shouldn’t be operating like land agents but see this as an opportunity to placate many disenchanted citizens. Our forefathers would be building facilities that would bring pride to the city. There is much the city lacks compaired to comparable sized towns. Such as we have are second rate. The Garrick was so hot on Sunday even the cast were fainting! We inherited a legacy from true lovers of a remarkable city. Is it only going to take one generation to destroy it all? Incidentally, I was told the old police station is being used as a morgue at present. Seems sickeningly appropriate to me.

  4. John Griffiin

    10th July, 2018 at 4:56 pm

    Current land value of station £2m. So unless the council sits on it until either the council goes Labour or the building falls down (given the turkey voting in Lichfield, the latter), there will be a sale arranged over a glass or two at Whittington Golf Club or in the monthly Masons meeting that will be justified as being in the city’s interest (i.e. sold to a Tory-funder developer for a song). Meanwhile, Burntwood (population30k+ with facilities suited to a town less than half the size) will have to wait another couple of years for another £1,300.