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Support for council’s proposals, but changes to Bird Street car park remain a contentious issue
A consultation on the proposed Lichfield city centre masterplan has revealed that more than three quarters of people support the overall strategy.
The draft document was drawn up by specialists brought in by Lichfield District Council.
The blueprint sought to find a way forward for the city centre after the demise of the doomed Friarsgate redevelopment project after more than ten years of planning.
Among the proposals were improvements to the land around the Birmingham Road site left derelict by the Friarsgate collapse and the creation of four distinct quarters.
A report from Cllr Iain Eadie, cabinet member for investment, economic growth and tourism, revealed that 1,100 people attended drop-in sessions as part of the consultation, while 141 responses were received via questionnaires.
“Overall the feedback received was positive with 77% of respondents answering ‘yes’ when asked if they thought the overall strategy is correct.
“One issue regarding this from a number of respondents was whether there should be more focus on sustainability and carbon neutral initiatives within the plan.
“Concerns were raised that the cumulative scale of future development proposals seems out of character with the realistic capacity of the historic environment.
“In terms of the Birmingham Road Gateway, 78% answered ‘yes’ when asked if the development opportunity would improve the city centre.
“Further feedback included the need for more affordable housing, car parking issues and consideration of public open space to be incorporated into the proposals.”Cllr Iain Eadie, Lichfield District Council
However, the hot topic in many of the responses was the proposal to convert the Bird Street car park into a new courtyard area.
“Loss of car parking”
Cllr Eadie’s report said the issue had been a key one for those engaging with the consultation.
“One key issue is the Bird Street Courtyard proposals. This garnered more individual responses than the other proposed development opportunities.
“75% of respondents answered ‘yes’ when asked ‘Do you think the Bird Street Courtyard development opportunity will help improve the city centre?’.
“Additional comments included that the B&M store and adjacent Staffordshire County Council land should be incorporated into the proposals, that the NCN Cycle Route currently sited in the car park should be mentioned, and historic landforms should be reflected.
“Concerns have been raised regarding loss of car parking, building heights, layout and design and views into/ and out of the site need to be carefully considered.”Cllr Iain Eadie, Lichfield District Council
“Lichfield Transport Hub”
Residents were also keen to offer ideas about how other areas left in limbo in the wake of Friarsgate could be improved as part of the masterplan.
A proposal for a Lichfield Transport Hub was welcomed by 83% of those who took part in the consultation.
“The ideas contained within the plan to help pedestrian accessibility to the city centre from Lichfield City train station by way of the ‘Birmingham Road Corridor’ interventions was supported by 88% of respondents.
“Many responses had specific ideas for how this could be implemented including overpass/underpass from the railway station, synchronisation of traffic light junctions and changes to the highway in general.
“In addition 83% of respondents agreed that the proposed Lichfield Transport Hub would enhance the arrival experience to the city by bus, coach, train and taxi, but raised concerns that the bus station must be of a size to allow for future expansion and that there should be an enclosed waiting area.
“There was good support for the ideas of pedestrian priority streets and improvements to pedestrian walkways and linkages.
“However, there were mixed views to the reopening of lower Bore Street.
“It was also raised that pedestrian priority streets need better enforcement, that they should not exclude cyclists and that the whole of the city centre could be pedestrianised.
“In addition 93% of respondents supported the strategy to improve pedestrian walkways and linkages, with ideas including large city centre maps to be displayed in the city.
“Respondents also encouraged a review of street furniture and that heritage improvements could be referenced such as shop front improvements, tourism signage and a revival of heritage features within the public realm.”Cllr Iain Eadie, Lichfield District Council
The responses to the consultation will be considered at an overview and scrutiny committee meeting at Lichfield District Council on 11th March.