A Lichfield councillor has called for more creative thinking to be used after calls for housing to be built on land in the city centre.

The former Tempest Ford site in Lichfield city centre

Cllr Joanne Grange made her comments after two Lib Dem representatives said construction work should begin on the former Tempest Ford site.

The future of the land has been uncertain ever since the collapse of the long-awaited Friarsgate redevelopment project in 2018.

But Cllr Grange said she would like to see more creative thinking about how the city centre could look in future.

Cllr Joanne Grange

“I am continually disappointed that the thinking for this site is the binary houses or retail.

“Why not use some imagination? Why not make it a completely flexible space that can serve many, many purposes?

“I’d love to see something like the Eden Project bubbles or an opening roof like centre court at Wimbledon. That way it could be used for markets, pop up festivals, open air or closed roof theatre, concerts, picnics, sport etc even when there’s bad weather.

“Plant lots of trees – that is if we’re serious about the climate emergency.”

Cllr Joanne Grange, Lichfield District Council

Cllr Paul Ray and Cllr Miles Trent had suggested that the land – now rebranded by Lichfield District Council as the Birmingham Road Site – could be used to help tackle housing shortages.

But Cllr Grange, independent member for Chadsmead ward, said the space should be used for the benefit of all residents.

“If it’s used for housing or more concrete it’s lost forever.

“Keep it as a wholly public space that’s used for all sorts of things that attract people to come into the city centre.

“I’m sure with a bit of imagination we can create something that would be special and improve the quality of life for residents and visitors.”

Cllr Joanne Grange, Lichfield District Council

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26 Comments

  1. Cllr Grange does seem to come up with much better ideas than the other members of Lichfield council. Is it because she is independent and is not restricted by the party line ?

  2. Quite agree Cllr Grange, we need something to rejuvenate Lichfield, the city is dying on it’s feet. More retail is a waste of money in this age of online shopping, if that wasn’t viable three years ago it certainly isn’t now. More houses? Please not. The whole area is starting to resemble a vast housing estate without the infrastructure to go with it. And housing in the city centre is not going to be ‘affordable’, whatever that means these days. And please don’t let it become another extension to Bromford City. When there is a waiting list for garages, they are continuing to tear them down. So much for their social credentials.

  3. No more houses, apartments or flats. Amenities for the city are needed.

    More residential properties is more Council Tax, you can see the draw to give planning permission but something needs to change before Lichfield is destroyed. There is far too much new housing with zero facilities to match.

    The handling of the Southern bypass is a farce to boot, along with so many other simultaneous road closures. How can contractors be given 8 months so far just for 1 junction?

  4. I certainly agree that the solution with the Birmingham Road site is not just housing – and we do need innovative suggestions.

    Hence the Lichfield Lib Dems have suggested that the new leisure centre could be located in the city centre. And we have proposed that the Debenhams building could be transformed into an indoor market for smaller/independent traders (like at Altrincham).

    But we do need additional housing in Lichfield but we say it must be affordable/social housing. Housing is just too expensive for too many in our district. And the services (GPS, schools etc) need to planned for in advance.

    Also we need to appreciate that if part of the Birmingham Road site is used for housing that generates significant income for the council for it to make improvements elsewhere in the city centre and district (new car park and bus station, EV charging points, new public spaces, more facilities for young people…..)

  5. Cllr Paul Ray – thousands of houses are being built all around Lichfield. In fact, at the current rate, Lichfield (and its surrounds) is going to almost double in size by around 2040. Is that not enough? Make those “affordable” if that’s the issue. How many more houses do you want to build in the next 10 years? Do you want to turn this whole area into a vast sprawl of houses? What about the climate emergency? We need to retain our green spaces.

  6. Fradley (where I’m from) used to be a small, quaint village, now it’s being turned into a town-sized housing estate with hardly any facilities. We still don’t even have a GP practice. It’s a joke. Why isn’t any of that new Council Tax being invested in Fradley Paul Ray? The roads are in an appalling condition in Fradley South already! Isn’t all this new Council Tax enough? How much do you need. I don’t see anything good coming from it.

  7. @Paul Ray – the Lichfield Lib Dems may have suggested putting the leisure centre on the site, but the steering committee that both you and I sit on recognised that a) the site isn’t big enough and b) the price of building a leisure centre in the middle of the conservation area would make it unviable. Hence why it can’t go there, and nor should it go in Beacon Park (which from memory was your second suggestion).

    Whilst I think we can all appreciate that building houses anywhere brings revenue for LDC that does not mean houses need to be crammed into every available space. Quality of life is at least as important as revenue, and what I’m hearing from people is that whilst they recognise the need for more affordable housing there must be more facilities and infrastructure. Putting any houses at all on this site, which really isn’t huge, limits the opportunity to do something else that brings jobs (which are equally needed), creates a reason to visit the city centre for both residents and visitors, protects the existing retail offering from further erosion from online competition with complementary leisure and commerce, and doing something to improve quality of life and make Lichfield even more special. There are many choices of locations for houses. There’s only one chance to do something special with this patch of land that forms the gateway to the centre.

  8. We should build Mikeyland. A fitting tribute to our glorious Member. A giant statue of him where you can experience his greatest achievement – the Lichfield Trent Valley lift – by riding a lift to the top of his custom hair hat where a viewing platform would allow you to view his realm. Obviously we’d have to put up some screens to make sure no-one accidentally gets a glimpse of Burntwood.

  9. What a breath of fresh air Cllr Joanne Grange is. Not heard of her before TBH but from this just put her in charge of the council and put the dinosaurs and those with no imagination out to grass.

  10. Lichfield should not pass ANY housing or commercial property proposals that do not meet zero carbon standards. They are already guilty of allowing too many low quality carbon guzzler houses on an unprecedented scale. The house builders will not address global warming unless legislation makes them do so. The consequences for this remiss far outweighs any other consideration. Both Staffordshire and Lichfield councils are culpable and should take immediate steps to reverse this. Affordability depends on how you measure your and posterities life chances.

  11. This is getting ridiculous, this need for “affordable housing”…we keep talking about this need for more houses, but as far as I can see, it just enables those who live outside of Lichfield to relocate into it…I have lived here for 30 odd years, schooled here, worked here and still do, and I live on one of the new estates. I can safely say that all of my neighbours on the street are from outside of the city, and I don’t mean down the road, I’m talking Stafford, Birmingham, Walsall etc. Every road on these new estates tell the same story. So all we are doing by building more houses and stressing this “need for more housing” is allowing people on the outside to move in. Whilst not against this, the expansion is too much for the infrastructure, and any counsellor pedalling the need for more housing stock is selling a lie based on a desire to sell off land for housing – a lucrative income if there was ever one. It is time to stop focussing on new housing for wealthy outsiders and updating what infrastructure we have to cope with those already here. Once this is up to standard, only then should we look at the housing situation.

  12. How refreshing to have a councillor that is looking outside the box, well done Councillor Grange, keep up the good work, you now need the support of other Councillors, If they have the strength to stand against the party line.
    What size is the proposed “Leisure Centre” it would be interesting to see it as a plan on the Birmingham Road site and as it is a Conservation area, what cost would it be to build affordable houses!!!!

  13. Councillor Grange – excellent comments which I fully support. Would you consider becoming our MP at the next election when, hopefully, MF retires (or loses) and leaves Lichfield for good?
    In just a short time since your own election, you have spoken more sense and behaved more maturely than our esteemed Michael.
    Chris – I agree that there should be a statue of MF in the city (maybe next to Dr Johnson) as he has done such a lot for his constituency and it will allow the electorate to show their appreciation of him.

  14. @Joanne Grange, I totally agree with all of your comments, about this site.

    Sadly, we have a council. If they were in charge of Stonehenge. Would build a housing estate round the outside and flats on top.

  15. Ed Eaton – I completely agree! You took the words right out of my mouth and you’ve spoken the most sense I’ve ever heard on this site! I would just like to add that this whole “affordable housing” is an absolute nonsense. Lichfield is no less affordable than most other places. There is an article on the BBC website now naming Winchester the least affordable city. Average house price is over £600k! That’s a problem. Lichfield is half that. Lichfield isn’t in the top 20 least affordable places the BBC listed. You can buy a 2 bed in/around Lichfield for £200k no problem, I’ve seen several of them recently for sale. That’s easily affordable for a couple earning £20k a year each. Go on Rightmove now, the average price for a semi in Lichfield is only slightly higher than say, a semi in Kings Heath in Birmingham. Lichfield only has higher average house prices because there are more detached houses. The price per square foot isn’t much different to lots of areas, but I don’t see all those other places using it as an excuse to build all over the green belt. It’s all a fallacy to keep building so they can profit from the builders!

  16. Housing needs to be built, we can question how much, what kind and where. Modern energy-efficient construction is essential. To this end, can LDC insist on new builds being equipped with solar panels?

  17. It’s great to hear new thoughts on developing the old ‘Kennings Garage’ site opposite St John’s Hospital. Cllr Grange, is a breath of fresh air who gets our support.
    Perhaps our Councillors could consider another couple of options; a public performance area in a green park setting, ‘GARRICK ON THE GREEN’ an open air amphitheatre. Or a botanical garden paying homage to DARWIN.

    But not more housing, and certainly not the multi storey carpark they proposed for the doomed shopping centre! This City is rich in heritage, use it now to shape Lichfield for the future too.

  18. Great suggestions from Cllr Grange. Lichfield is sadly going downhill rapidly, and any more housing or elderly residential accommodation will not help. A multipurpose space as suggested by Cllr Grange would enhance Lichfield, bring in more visitors who would bring economic benefit and growth to the city. With its history and transport links, there is no reason why Lichfield could not be a vibrant and desirable destination. I hope the rest of the council will take this suggestion seriously.

  19. Well done Cllr Joanne Grange for thinking different, my only shock is that they haven’t sold it to Bromford housing (based on history they may have already)

    I’ve seen a lot from Cllr Grange and would happily see her take the lead or even challenge the complacent Fabricant

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