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Leader of Lichfield District Council outlines short term plans for future of land earmarked for doomed Friarsgate development

The leader of Lichfield District Council has outlined the short term plans for the land left derelict following the collapse of the Friarsgate scheme.

Part of the area which would have become Friarsgate
Part of the area which would have become Friarsgate

The site – now rebranded the Birmingham Road Site by the local authority – includes the demolished Tempest Ford garage, the vacant police station building and the bus station area.

The long-awaited city centre redevelopment scheme bit the dust last year after more than a decade in the planning after it emerged that nowhere near enough funding could be secured to make the project a reality.

The boarded up former Tempest Ford site
The boarded up former Tempest Ford site

But Cllr Mike Wilcox, leader of Lichfield District Council says that the local authority does have plans for the short term future of the site, despite parts of it already lying empty for more than six months since the demise of Friarsgate.

“We know from feedback local people want us to improve the site in the short-term, while we work on plans for a longer-term development that is both deliverable and sustainable,” continued Cllr Wilcox.  

The council has drawn up plans to demolish the former police station buildings as well as those in the bus station, such as the public toilets.

Boarded up shops next to the bus station which had been earmarked for the doomed Friarsgate development
Boarded up shops next to the bus station which had been earmarked for the doomed Friarsgate development

The work will make way for an extension to the bus station and reconfigured car park.

The local authority also says it intends to landscape the area and install temporary toilet facilities.

The plans come after it emerged just two councillors had turned up to a meeting of a working group specifically created to find a long-term solution to the Friarsgate debacle.

Cllr Mike Wilcox
Cllr Mike Wilcox

Cllr Wilcox insisted long term proposals were being looked at.

“Going forward it’s vital that local people and stakeholders feed into our longer-term vision of the site and we look forward to hearing your ideas,” he said.

“We know that our plans must reflect the lifestyle and needs of our local community, be realistic and deliverable, encourage people to stay in our city and district, enhance the public realm and provide an economic benefit through more jobs and investment opportunities.

“Our aim is to provide a sustainable development that complements our changing and evolving city.”

The council has also launched a website at www.lichfielddc.gov.uk/birminghamroad designed to keep residents up to date on plans for the development of the Birmingham Road Site. 

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14 Comments

  1. Darryl

    25th January, 2019 at 2:53 pm

    He truly is the master of saying nothing.

  2. wilf

    25th January, 2019 at 3:02 pm

    Let’s get this straight then; in what is coming up to the best part of a year, several meetings and the associated costs of that in officer and councillor time (when they can be arsed to attend) have created what is essentially a grand plan to knock down some buildings and put some portaloos in? I’m so surprised Wilcox and Co aren’t being brought in to develop the cities of the future across the world with such innovative thinking.

    What worries me most is not Barry Chuckle’s incompetence (because people can have the ability to be out of their depth), but the fact he genuinely seems to believe the rubbish he spouts. If you tell a fib long enough it doesn’t become true, Councillor Wilcox.

    Yes, we as a local community have a lot to be angry at this incapable buffoon for, but I reserve even greater anger for those standing alongside him eating the free biscuits and allowing him to get away with scarring the landscape of this city for a generation or more. History will look back on them all and ask ‘what the hell were they playing at?’

  3. Joanne Grange

    25th January, 2019 at 3:05 pm

    Throw down a bit of turf and put in some temporary loos and hope everyone’s forgotten about it come May when local elections are held…. Amazing really that demolishing some public toilets and installing some temporary public toilets should be seen as progress. Am I missing something?! Presumably we’ll be paying to hire some sort of temporary facility? I think someone should open the book on how long the “temporary” toilet facilities will remain in situ. I suspect we’ll be able to measure it in years.

  4. wilf

    25th January, 2019 at 3:07 pm

    Don’t worry Joanne Grange, Tom Marshall will be along soon to tell us all that we aren’t really paying for the portaloos at all in the same way we haven’t really spent £7million buying land for something that will never be built. He’s like David Copperfield the way he’s able to make bills disappear in a puff of smoke. Perhaps they should give him the Cabinet role for finance as he’ll be able to make that budget deficit disappear in no time. Mind you, he doesn’t have an undeclared directorship related to the area of expertise so I’d guess he wouldn’t be suitable to sit at the top table.

  5. Michel Souris

    25th January, 2019 at 3:15 pm

    There is still no mention of a time scale for permanently developing the site.

    As Joanne says, throw in a couple of sods of turf, knock down permanent buildings then add some Portaloos, extend the car park….job done. That solution should suffice until the next century, the councillors can be proud.

    What have we done to deserve these cretins? No imagination, no sense of heritage, no creativity, no civic pride….LD Councillors need to be removed before they make even bigger mistakes.

  6. Steve

    25th January, 2019 at 3:54 pm

    Next, a sudden rush of councillors setting up dormant car parking and clamping companies. That they then forget they are directors of.

  7. Dave. Lichfield.

    25th January, 2019 at 4:53 pm

    Nothing being done then – message to LD Councillors , would you like me to offer up some free time and come and give you a bit of direction as clearly the horse has truly bolted the stable here.You rest your weary heads and discuss the price of digestive biscuits and other less taxing issues which to be fair is probably your limit.

  8. Neil Hickman

    25th January, 2019 at 8:01 pm

    Can’t wait to see how much they paid for the police building given that “We will have to demolish the police station at somepoint as our surveys have shown the building is not useable in its current state, even in the short-term”

    I expect it will be touted as a good investment for the tax payers of Lichfield District (about 50 times or until we swallow the lie)

  9. Neil Hickman

    25th January, 2019 at 8:06 pm

    Oh this one’s a gem too…from http://www.lichfielddc.gov.uk/birminghamroad/short-term-plan/

    Why has it taken so long to take the former police station down?

    Because the former police station and other buildings in the development site are in a conservation area, it has not been possible to just knock them down. We’ve had to follow the right processes and an important part of getting consent to knock down the buildings is showing that we have a remediation plan we can put in place following demolition works. This has to be agreed and designed in order for the demolition to be approved.

    WTF happened to Tempest Ford site then?? You had him out and it down in no time to try to save face.

  10. LetsGiveItASpin

    25th January, 2019 at 9:06 pm

    No mention of these proposals at the last meeting that only two attended, so you have created a group whom now i must take it have been sidelined in favour fo these newly released proposals of turf and loos ..

    The council has recently advertised and i guess by now employed Estates manager and assistant to deal with the council commercial property activities. No mention whatsoever in any documents as to what they are saying in terms of advice.

    To be fair to them , the site is a poisoned chalice. No commercial firm is going to be interested in this site after the awful handling of the last friarsgate proposals even if they try and refer to the site differently the site is and will be for a few years be somewhat blacklisted by imnvestors and lacks of interest from any decent high street retailer or enterprise.

    Housing and green space is probably what the council will go for, they need to regain £7-14 million, the figure will exceed £7 million for sure as the cost of demolition of the Police station will be somewhat more than they anticipate. This is due to the fact that underneath the police station car park is a significant petrol/diesel storage dump, this was used by Southern Traffic Division when Staffordshire police has a fully qualified traffic department. Petrol and or diesel will probably be still in the tanks and will have possibly leaked but now so some sort of contamination will be needed to be cleared . The same applies to the Ford dealership not all the tanks were removed to save costs i guess but will need to be dealt with

    Car parking being extended is also a possibility , but the council first needs to assess the affect of M&S closing and whether footfall reduces as a result . This being so , then car parking would not be sensible as you would not be attracting enough new footfall to fill those spaces , though i am sure it will give the council officers more car parking spaces as i hear they like to argue about the lack of spaces they have for free car parking

    The new shopping village in Cannock at the Poplars roundabout is a major concern for lichfield , now sandwich between Cannock major scheme being currently built and the already existing Tamworth Ventura park means a lot of the big commercial retailers will not be interested in building in lichfield , which then means no cinema as one needs retails to support the cinema proposals

    The mew Lidl store and associated empty units gives an indication that attracting new big names is a an uphill struggle

    Whilst all the above sounds negative , there is some hope for the site and that is a modern conference / museum centre , Its a shame that the council wanting to support the County Council wishes to sell the old library for housing means that they could have sought backing for a combined conference centre and tourism/museum would have much more benefits by attracting conferences and delegates would in turn start to attract larger retailers back as this would an unique sellling point for the area

  11. Steve

    26th January, 2019 at 7:46 am

    Once the new car park is complete.

    The B&M car park will become million pound luxury apartments.

  12. Neil Hickman

    26th January, 2019 at 2:45 pm

    It will all be housing, fits in well with their dash to run a building company. Makes me wonder if those recent conflict of interest dormant companies would have suddenly started trading. Think I’m right in saying they were both construction/building companies. I’ll stand corrected if I’m wrong of course.

  13. Steve

    27th January, 2019 at 1:55 pm

    Seems Cllr Wilcox has forgotten one little detail, again.

    How much is this going to cost and where is the money coming from?

  14. Bob Smith

    27th January, 2019 at 7:23 pm

    Spot on Steve, when undertaking any development it is prudent to have the finance in place before finalising plans. Local Authorities are always pleading that they have no money, yet with an election looming suddenly they can fund a cosmetic project. Still appear not to be learning after ‘F’ Gate?

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