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A councillor has called for a rethink on the Lichfield city centre masterplan in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
Lichfield District Council’s overview and scrutiny committee debated the proposals at a meeting earlier this week.
A vote on the masterplan was eventually passed after initially being incorrectly counted.
But Labour’s Cllr Darren Ennis said times had changed since the masterplan was originally drawn up. He told the meeting:
“I’m not against a masterplan, far from it. I do think Lichfield needs to move forward.
“But what recent events have shown us – even for my own business and local ones around here – is that we are hitting a stage where 10 to 20% of local businesses are struggling, failing and letting people go.
“The type of city centre is going to change and it’s going to change very soon.
“This plan was brilliant a year ago and I agreed with it then. But the economy has changed and things in this plan as it is now need to change.
“It needs to take into account how shopping habits will differ and how the type of shops will too. Even the way people visit cities will change.
“We need to rethink this. We’ve got the basis here, but we do need to look again rather than rushing into a plan that was set up before COVID-19.”Cllr Darren Ennis, Lichfield District Council
There was also opposition to the plan from Conservative committee member Cllr Alastair Little, who warned “another Friarsgate” could be on the horizon.
The long-awaited city centre redevelopment left the council footing a multi-million pound bill when it failed to materialise after more than a decade in the making.
“We have to be making the correct decision”
Cllr Ennis told Lichfield Live a pause was needed to avoid making the same mistakes again.
“This plan should be reviewed and given at least six months to see how the city centre scene has changed after coronavirus.
“As I mentioned in the meeting, I am not against a city centre plan, but I am against a plan that was made before the pandemic and we haven’t seen the effects of this on our businesses and our tourism industry.
“We have to be making the correct decision before spending potentially millions on a scheme that could fail yet again.”Cllr Darren Ennis, Lichfield District Council
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