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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.
“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”
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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