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An artist’s impression of the city centre masterplan

A Lichfield councillor has questioned plans to start the next phase of a city centre masterplan against the backdrop of uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Cllr Joanne Grange made her comments at a meeting of Lichfield District Council last night (13th October).

She said elements of the city centre masterplan raised questions at a time of economic uncertainty due to the coronavirus crisis.

Joanne Grange

“Clearly we are in the middle of a global pandemic and nobody knows what the world is going to look like the other side of this or how long it’s going to take to get out of it.

“While I appreciate there’s a desire to solve the Friarsgate problem, is pushing forward with the decision that will potentially last for generations the right thing to do bearing mind where we are the moment?

“If we look at the city centre masterplan one of the suggestions is a cinema – clearly we’re in a position where cinemas are shutting and there’s no clear direction of when they’re going to come out of it.

“It strikes me that we are pushing forward too quickly at a time when the outcome is too uncertain.

“It may be more beneficial to stop, take a breath and see what the world is going to look like in six months time before we spend £330,000 pushing forward on a delivery plan based on a masterplan that may not be the best outcome for this city.”

Cllr Joanne Grange, Lichfield District Council

“This next phase is really important”

Doug Pullen

Cllr Doug Pullen, leader of Lichfield District Council, insisted the work being proposed was not impacted by the current situation.

“I think it’s really important for us to know precisely what the masterplan is and what the masterplan isn’t.

“We’ve been really clear that it’s about looking at the whole city and not just about the previous Friarsgate site.

“Much of the work that is included in the next phase of delivery is very much about looking at a car parking strategy for instance. That’s not limited to the Birmingham Road site; that looks across the whole of the city centre.

“I think this next phase is really important – it helps us make sure we’ve got a balanced city where a new development doesn’t detract from the amazing independents and cathedral we’ve got.

“There are some words of wisdom there that we do need at some point to be able to pause and think about what goes on the Birmingham Road site – but this next phase isn’t that point.

“This is where we are looking at that wider picture around the entire city and how people and cars move around.

“Regardless of what comes out in the next two to five to ten years, that work needs to be done, so let’s get that done and let’s get ourselves to the point where we have to take a breathe and a sense check and think about what the next most viable steps are.”

Cllr Doug Pullen, Lichfield District Council

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  1. Pure stupidity. I do not understand why the council are so happy to waste OUR money.

    No one can predict how many stores will still be in Lichfield will be open in 6 months. Let alone 6 years.

    Covid could still be with us. Millions unemployed. A massive recession and more importantly a government with trillions of pounds of debts. Will people still be commuting to work or, will working from home be the new normal?

    Any consultancy will come back with a massive list of uncertainties.

  2. I really believe final decisions should be deferred at this point; if people don’t want to/ can’t, go out like they did when this development was planned, no incentives will force them to go out, even if they’re allowed to…which is moot right now.
    It would surely be better to hold off final decisions until the next financial year, when we’re out of a bleak winter with more knowledge about the Covid situation? Why not rent vacant space as car parking in the meantime, for some immediate income, if possible? Or market stalls…anything…?
    I’m supporting Cllr Granges’ view here, though goodness knows Lichfield ultimately needs this development. But not if in our ‘new era’ it doesn’t offer what people then will choose to do with their time & valuable money.
    I respect Cllr Pullen on many of his decisions, despite not sharing his politics but, on this, forging ahead without insight into future behaviours or economic options is, to me, naive.

  3. Good comments and common sense from Kitty. One thing that does strike me is that initiatives like more, and pop up, cycle lanes have been put in at many towns in response to a surge in cycling. I think this is to be encouraged for health and environmental reasons. However in Lichfield nothing has been done. Even the limited cycle lanes we have are not being maintained, and there are many places where provision for cyclists could be improved at relatively low cost. Is this going to feature in the master plan thinking, as we’ve heard no mention of it so far?

  4. When this corvid 19 is over people will still want to go to cinemas ,shopping etc ,so stop messing about and get on with what was promised,some oeiple do not have transport or the inconvienence of traveling to Tamworh ,Sutton etc .we as a city should be able to have own own entertainment facilities ie roller skate/ ice skating tenpin alley ,

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