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Plans to redevelop Lichfield city centre have been backed by the Liberal Democrats.
Lichfield District Council has been consulting on the draft city centre masterplan which outlines how the area will move forward in the wake of the failed Friarsgate project.
It has drawn criticism in some quarters, with a local cycling group branding it as lacking in ambition.
But Cllr Paul Ray said there were plenty of positives in the proposals.
“The Lichfield Lib Dems’ view is that overall the draft masterplan is a good document which presents an exciting and positive plan for the future of Lichfield city centre.
“The aspects that we particulary welcome are the concept of a ‘green city’ and the opening up of walkways around the city centre, including Minster Walk and the Angel Croft development which opens up a walk from the cathredral into Beacon Park.”Cllr Paul Ray, Lichfield District Council
Among the proposals are a redevelopment of the Bird Street car park area – a move which has been questioned by a local residents’ group.
Cllr Ray said such concerned could be mitigated during any construction project.
“We support the Bird Street car park courtyard development, but appreciate that this is a very contentious local issue.
“So before this development starts and the car parking here is reduced, we agree with the plan that the proposed new multi storey car park must be built first.
“Also we would like to see electronic signage boards introduced into Lichfield centre indicating to the public which car parks are full and have spaces as with many other centres – then we will not have to spend hours driving around the centre looking for car parking.
“The plans for improved access from Lichfield City station into the centre via the old Friarsgate site also look good and create real impact for visitors to our city.”Cllr Paul Ray, Lichfield District Council
“Essential that this is housing for all”
Despite broadly supporting the document, the Lib Dems have also called for a rethink on some aspects.
Cllr Ray said connections between the city’s two railways stations and the use of land earmarked for redevelopment both need further consideration.
“The masterplan proposes town housing on the old Friarsgate site and it is essential that this is housing for all and not just more high-end and retirement units.
“It would be great to have housing for young people and young familes right in the centre of the city.
“The cinema is a great idea, but the masterplan fails to address the replacement of the Friary Grange Leisure Centre.
“We have previously proposed a leisure centre with gym and medium-sized pool on the old Friarsgate site.
“If this is not seen as a city centre project then as part of the Local Plan consultation, sites need to be identified for the new leisure centre that the council have committed to build in five years’ time.”Cllr Paul Ray, Lichfield District Council
Finally overall this Masterplan is good for Lichfield residents but to ensure that public confidence is maintained, it is very important that there is real progress onsite at the old Friarsgate site in 2020.”