A group of Lib Dem councillors have called for “action not words” to unlock stalled projects in Lichfield.

Lib Dem councillors Miles Trent, Paul Ray and Hugh Ashton
Lib Dem councillors Miles Trent, Paul Ray and Hugh Ashton

A meeting of Lichfield District Council next week will discuss plans to push ahead with the redevelopment of land earmarked for the failed Friarsgate scheme.

Local authority chiefs have also suggested more money could be provided to build a new leisure centre at Stychbrook Park after it failed to secure Levelling Up funding from the Government.

Liberal Democrat councillors Paul Ray, Hugh Ashton and Miles Trent have now called for the Conservative leadership at the district council to back up their words with actions to ensure the city doesn’t have to wait any longer for both schemes to get off the ground.

Cllr Ashton, Garrick ward representative at Lichfield City Council, said:

An indicative plan of the proposed Birmingham Road site redevelopment
An indicative plan of the proposed Birmingham Road site redevelopment

“It’s now time for action, not words.

“Conservative councillors have spoken about the Birmingham Road site and the leisure centre, but when you read what they’ve said they actually say nothing.

“The Birmingham Road site is an eyesore in the centre of Lichfield and there has been a lack of action from the council to move this forward.

“Doug Pullen [leader of the district council] said last week about the Birmingham Road site that it is a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity and a ‘lofty ambition’ – but what does that mean?”

Cllr Hugh Ashton

Cllr Trent, who represents the Chadsmead ward on Lichfield City Council, said recent comments from the Conservative leadership over the long-term future of proposals for a new leisure centre also needed further explanation.

It comes after the district council’s cabinet member for finance, Cllr Rob Strachan, said more funding could be put in, despite the local authority opting not to award the project Community Infrastructure Levy funding.

“Cllr Pullen said nothing had changed at all on the leisure plans, but the council has just got to be more proactive in getting out there to raise funding so this can move forward.

“Cllr Strachan said the authority could step up with capital funding where projects are stalled – but then at the same time the council decided not to use funding available for community infrastructure projects to help build the new leisure centre.”

Cllr Miles Trent

“Affordable homes for key workers”

Cllr Hugh Ashton and Cllr Paul Ray at the Birmingham Road site
Cllr Hugh Ashton and Cllr Paul Ray at the Birmingham Road site

Cllr Paul Ray, who represents Chadsmead ward on Lichfield District Council, said specific suggestions had been made for the former Friarsgate land.

“I am a member of the task group overseeing the Conservatives‘ running of these projects and I desperately want to see them get off the ground.

“Together with Cllr Hugh Ashton I have made specific proposals to assist with moving the Birmingham Road site forward.

“These have included proposing that homes built on this site are affordable homes for key workers and that any retail facilities have a focus on independent and craft or artisan businesses.”

Cllr Paul Ray, Lichfield District Council

The long term plans for the Birmingham Road site will be discussed at a meeting of Lichfield District Council on 22nd February.

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  1. I may be missing something, but I cannot see how houses/flats built on the Friarsgate site are going to be affordable for key workers, as Cllr Paul Ray would like. Developers will be rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of getting a premium location plot of land, on which they can cram loads of houses/flats to sell at eye watering prices. In any case, the plan we have seen so far is ridiculous. Removing the bus station after it has not long had a revamp and new toilets-is this the real reason the illuminated displays were refused planning permission? Removing the multi storey carpark and not replacing the parking provision-what planet are these people living on? The furore about the new leisure centre-remind me, why is Friary Grange going to be closed to the public so soon after a much vaunted makeover? And instead of utilising an empty site in the city centre, the council are fixated on obliterating a public park instead. What a shambles.

  2. Can we have a definition of a ‘key worker’? There are no services in Lichfield with key worker status.
    It is clear that councillors are just not listening to the many reports covering this issue on Lichfield Live and the strength of feelings being expressed. This is a local issue not a political one. Get Friasgate wrong AGAIN at your peril.

  3. A bit disappointed that the LibDem councillors haven’t got more to say on the details of the plans. Have they not seen the comments on here about the bus station or car park? According to the Council’s plan, the housing on the site will be targeted at the “younger/professional market”, not key workers. And a leisure centre could be designed to blend in with the surroundings just as easily as housing.

  4. Just what is wrong with this Council? There is a space on the Bham Rd site for centrally provisioned full leisure centre facility; pool, studios etc over several floors linked to a cinema, with total parking without taking green field sites in residential areas. No vision just easy developer build options as always and these same Councillors, casting opinions but still not listening, as they believe they know better.

  5. Bus station: an asset, a precious and vital facility- not an eyesore (unless neglected and underfunded!). Why would Councillor Pullen discourage bus-using visitors?
    I advise our councillors to catch a fast Burton bus, change there to the fast bus to Derby, and see for themselves what a well-planned modern bus station provides!

  6. They have said a lot without really saying much that is helpful. I agree with others, Friarsgate’s residential developments will not be aimed at those of who are looking to step onto the property ladder for the first time.

  7. I recently phoned up the local Lib Dem office to ask for a copy of their manifesto. The person on the other end of the phone said “Sorry but we sold out years ago”.

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