A backlog of maintenance work caused by the collapse of the Friarsgate scheme has left Lichfield District Council facing a £300,000 bill for the city’s Birmingham Road car park.
A report to a meeting of the local authority’s Cabinet has revealed that the city centre car park had been due to be knocked down as part of the doomed redevelopment scheme.
But with Friarsgate no longer going ahead after a decade in the planning and with taxpayers already having footed a £12.5million bill in relation to the projecrt, work now needs to be carried out to “maintain the structural integrity” of the car park.
A report by Cllr Ian Pritchard, Cabinet member for economic growth, environment and development services, said half of the money would need to be spent on structural work, with £100,000 needed to improve the lighting and a further £50,000 contingency fund.
He said: “Due to the previously planned demolition in connection with the Friarsgate project, maintenance work on the Birmingham Road multi-storey car park has been limited to essential items only for some years.
“This has led to a backlog of tasks which now need to be completed in order to ensure the continued structural integrity of the car park and also to make sure that the facility can provide a reasonably pleasant and inviting offer for our customers.
“The intention of this project is to provide a minimum five year life extension to the structure with no further major works expected in that period.
“If redevelopment intentions for the area were to change, making retention of the facility for the longer term desirable, additional structural works would be required, but none of the works proposed would prejudice this course of action.”
“Failing upper deck covering”
But Cllr Pritchard’s report has revealed that the structure is again in need of repair work.
“The structure has been regularly inspected by consultant engineers and their recommendations form the core of the works proposed.
“These will include replacing the failing upper deck covering, repairs to various areas of damaged concrete, anti-corrosion treatment to structural steelwork, replacement of damaged height limiters, replacement of fire doors and a deep clean of the entire building.
“The lighting is a mixture of units, many of them thought to date from a major refurbishment carried out around 30 years ago. As well as presenting an ever increasing maintenance requirement, these units are extremely energy hungry by modern standards.
“It is expected that a complete refit with modern LED units would offer a sufficient pay back in reduced energy and maintenance costs to reach a break even point five years after the changeover.”
The works would be funded from a sinking fund from car park income that has been set aside to carry out works.
Cllr Pritchard added that levels would need to be closed while the repairs take place, but that it was hoped a complete closure could be avoided.
The report will be heard at a meeting of Lichfield District Council’s Cabinet on 12th March.