The bus station in Lichfield
The bus station in Lichfield

A councillor has called for plans to move Lichfield’s bus station to a new location to be scrapped.

The current facility has been earmarked as part of a redevelopment project on land previously occupied for the failed Friarsgate scheme.

Now rebranded as the Birmingham Road Site, the station plus the multi-storey car park, Tempest Ford land and former police station plot.

Lichfield Civic Society has since confirmed that the council is in negotiations over a new, unknown location for the bus station in the city centre.

But Cllr Joanne Grange, independent member for Chadsmead, said any move made no sense.

“Just leave it where it is.

“It doesn’t take a genius to have a quick think about the city centre and realise there is nowhere that would work better.”

Cllr Joanne Grange, Lichfield District Council

Original plans for the land had earmarked a cinema as part of the development, but talks have since begun to convert the former Debenhams building into a multi-screen venue.

Cllr Grange said there was a chance for other parts of the site, such as the derelict land where Tempest Ford once stood, to be reconsidered.

“How about turning the Friarsgate wasteland into a grassed area with loads of trees as a central oasis? How pleasant would that be as a welcoming gateway?

“It would help with the recently discussed biodiversity emergency and the declared climate change emergency.”

Cllr Joanne Grange, Lichfield District Council

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  1. Totally agree with Joanne’s comment.
    The bus station is ideally placed opposite the train station and central too for the centre of our lovely City.
    A green open space on Friarsgate would also be ideal. Perfect for welcoming visitors but also great for the community
    At last a sensible councillor speaking for the people of Lichfield.

  2. I agree with Joanne Grange. Where exactly in the city centre is there space for a bus station? I can’t think of anywhere that would be big enough.

  3. Agree with these comments. If Friarsgate is no longer needed as a cinema/restaurants because Three Spires is being used instead, and if we can’t fit a leisure centre on it either, then turn it into an attractive green space/gardens. It would make for a beautiful entrance to Lichfield and is much needed when so much other greenery is being lost around the area. The last thing we want is this handed over for more flats please!!

  4. All depends on your aims/views.

    If you think bus/rail interchange is the top priority above all else then the current location is best. Which would appear to be the Joanne Grange position.

    If you think having buses closer to the city centre wherever or however that may be to deposit visitors right in the centre in order to drive footfall in the same way Brighton, Oxford Street etc do then the current bus station is not the best location and on street bus stops are better.

    For example a bus user going to and from the railway station currently probably will not purchase anything from the City Centre. Have a bus stop outside retail and they may make a discretionary purchase, drink snack, look in window to buy etc. Plus the walk to the City Centre is further for older people currently but less to the station.

    At the simplest level that is the choice. From that stems any redevelopment benefits as the case may.

    While the green space ideas are laudable it would seem in tight times for local government finance the reality of the situation is that best return needs to be achieved for the site. Even if that is unpalatable.

    Ultimately it is about making the best of a bad situation even if the end results are not what some would wish.

    As aside it would be interesting to know how often Joanne Grange travels by bus in light of her great support for the existing bus station?

  5. RFW – we should be looking at legacy not just money all the time. Money always takes priority, how about giving something else priority for once? Like the good of the community, the environment etc? They are carving up the countryside already. Once the opportunity is gone it’s gone.

  6. Tarmac the whole friars gate area ,easy parking ,easy to walk over,low/no maintenance. Job done and our council can sit back ,clap each other of a low cost job done what a pathetic lot they are

  7. I travel by Bus to Lichfield at least twice a week. Shopping ,Market Days and Socially.. The walk from the Bus station takes a matter of moments and you are right in the Heart of the City. The City now is pedestrian Friendly, I have no idea where you could place Bus Stops?I meet many visitors who have come on a Day Trip by Coach or by Train. These visitors are spending money in Lichfield Eateries Coffee Shops etc. The Face of our City should be Welcoming. Make it welcoming for where they arrive.Greenery, Seating, perhaps a Water Feature. A place where we too the Tax Payers can enjoy. I cannot understand the relevance to Brighton and Oxford Street !? It is possible of courses that the person going to the Railway Station is working to earn money to spend in Lichfield… it is more than obvious that the agenda for the Bus Station is already in hand. It’s a secret and all the meetings are totally irrelevant…..all our objections ignored.

  8. What happens to buses that arrive in Lichfield but are not timetabled to leave for perhaps 3/4 hour if at a road side stop. Also the coaches that park there

  9. Agree with Joanne I doubt we can find a better location with good access for buses & coaches! I will believe the new cinema when I see it as the big 3 chains are not developing any sites in England. I is technically insolvent & the 2 others are loss making with massive debts. Its one thing to run an existing cinema its totally different developing & running one. I do not see LDC creating a new cinema they fudged the [new] Garrick years ago even with EC contributions

  10. @ RFW – I’m confused by your point, Are you suggesting that I can only advocate for things that directly impact me personally rather than on behalf of residents? To answer your specific point I generally walk into the city centre because I’m physically able to and live relatively close. I sometimes use the 32 route and have, in the past, used the bus into Birmingham but generally prefer the train as it’s quicker. However, many of my residents do use the bus both for work and pleasure so it’s perfectly right that I use my voice to amplify their concerns.

    I’m interested by your suggestion that having buses closer to the city centre would be a good idea. Where are you proposing? I guess Market Square would be closer than the current bus station, but I’m not persuaded that having buses weaving through the main shopping area is a good idea.

  11. Totally agree with the comments from Ms Grange. Now it’s over to the Muppets that run LDC to completely ignore any sensible ideas that are passed their way and carry on with this stupid redevelopment project that appears to have been written on the back of a fag packet.

  12. Don’t always agree with her but Cllr Grange is often on the ball and is once again right here. It makes little sense moving the bus station from it’s current place which is right next to to the train station. That’s how modern cities work with interconnected transport so commuters have less hassle and it’s how Lichfield should be. Realistically where else could it go that doesn’t cause major disruption?

    If she stands again I hope she gets re-elected.

  13. Well said Joanne Grange. I agree with everything you’ve said. The proximity of the bus station to the railway station is ideal, and cannot be reinstated when a future council realises the huge mistake that was made by building on that land. Don’t forget that it serves as a coach park too, and is necessary to bring tourists to Lichfield. The whole area could become an attractive area which would encourage and enable more people to use public transport, surely an ecologically friendly aim?
    I’m afraid that I’m bemused by RFW’s views. Does he have some sort of vested interest in clearing the area? As for the council’s need to cut their financial cloth
    accordingly, I believe that their reserves are very healthy, and that finance cannot be the excuse for making decisions which will stand as their legacy for generations to come.

  14. To be clear the station could still be served by means of bus stops along Birmingham Road by routing bus services passed the station as opposed to having a terminal bus station with all the land take. The service outcome for rail/bus users is the same or potentially better on the station side of the road if the bus services were to be routed in and out via Birmingham Road. Current stand to time could be eliminated by timetabling changes.

    Regarding green spaces, personally I would put my efforts into the inner core by turning the Bird Street car park into a green civic square opening up the route towards the Minster Pool (possibly taking down the wall), which is currently trapped to some extent behind the car park with limited walking routes via Dam Street, Bird Street, the B+M alley and the alley that is closed at night off Market Street. This would serve as space for the food festivals etc and encourage the positive street cafe culture that is limited by the on street frontages on many retail premises in Lichfield. I am not sure people would walk to Birmingham Road to enjoy a green space on a busy road junction.

    I just don’t see why the bus station is a sacred cow when the current and potentially better bus provision can be provided while freeing up the site for redevelopment.

  15. Joanne is absolutely correct on this point.

    Many others have also questioned what is probably the most crazy idea from LDC.

    The existing location is perfect in every aspect.

    LDC should stop trying to create a single larger area in the centre to sell for development.

  16. RFW
    Your Vision is totally flawed in all aspects. Firstly the Cost. Secondly the Buses still have no Terminus are they going to go around and around and where to? Where do all the Cars that now Park behind BM go? We have Plenty of space already for Food Festivals etc. People arrive at Birmingham Road via Bus Train. People do walk to Green Spaces in our City. Stowe, Minster Pool Beacon Park…The Cathedral. All these areas easily accessed within Short Walks. What we do not have as a Courtesy Welcome Area of Green Space . Go think again,

  17. I think I have read all of the previous comments, and there seems to be a consensus that it it’s not broken, don’t fix it. I would refer back to LDC’s comment regarding an alternative city centre site for a new bus station, where might that be I wonder. The only space big enough that I can think of would be the B & M carpark. Access would be tricky.

  18. This will need to be well designed if it stays in current location. Otherwise we’ll have an ugly high traffic area of tarmac, pumping fumes and noise into a small green space. It could be rubbish and given LDC’s track record of planning horrors I really wouldn’t trust them.

  19. Let’s go radical. Just bulldoze the whole of Lichfield City Centre down, it is after all full of very old building. Then there is a very large brown field site to build retirement complexes, no roads just mobility scooter ways, that should please LDC.

  20. Quite unnecessary to move bus station. Another money wasting idea. Just leave it where is – convenient to all.

  21. I do hope that the rest of the Council will listen to us, rail and bus users who welcome the current sensible location of the bus and coach station.
    As regards RFW, perhaps he does not appreciate why the Bird Street Car Park must be retained. An understandably busy and popular car park because of its location and a boon to Lichfeldians who value it because it is hidden from view and its presence does not impact the historic centre of the City.

  22. If it’s about the land creating money, leave the bus terminal where it is erect a building above which will earn revenue and protect passengers from british weather whilst waiting for a bus.
    Problem solved.

  23. The council could leave the bus station where it is with a few modifications then build the leisure centre on the waste ground that was the garage and build above the bus station a restaurant and have a bridge across the road to link it with the railway station,

  24. Quite agree with “Veteran ex army”. There’s plenty space for what local people actually want on this site, which isn’t more housing. The bridge between the bus station and railway station is a good idea. This would also be a good opportunity to improve the St John Street/Birmingham Road junction so that pedestrians are able to cross there too without having to dodge traffic.

  25. I moved to Lichfield because I’d heard and had understood it was a beautiful place to live, with a low crime-rate and family friendly area. Having got to know the area much better, I think it’s a myth that some people here like to tell themselves and others. Yes, areas of the centre are pretty, but that’s about it, and it’s going down fast.

    Having moved here, this is what I’ve found:
    1. Feral youths all around the centre, particularly in and around McDonald’s, littering, swearing loudly and generally behaving in an offensive way, particularly with young children around.
    2. Offensive graffiti which consistently re-appears around the city centre.
    3. Anti-social behaviour and the smell of marijuana being smoked by teenagers/men often when I’m in Lichfield in the late evenings.
    4. Litter everywhere.
    5. Ugly new housing estates, or high-density prisons wherever you look around Lichfield. Cramped, small houses with high levels of social housing being built en masse. Slums of the future.
    6. Louts coming out of Lichfield’s pubs drunk, spitting everywhere and generally causing a nuisance.
    7. Terrible roads, with potholes everywhere.
    8. A Council that doesn’t even know what a leisure centre is, and tries to tell us that a swimming pool with an astro-turf pitch outside is a leisure centre. In fact, the Council are horrendous generally, with zero vision or ambition for the area (they just want to copy other Councils and then can’t even get that right).
    9. Lack of investment in any of Lichfield’s tourist attractions (see the state of Samuel Johnson’s house, the fact that Lichfield doesn’t even have a museum about the history of the city etc).
    10. Lack of anything for children to do in the area. Zero leisure attractions for young families except the park. Compare this to what’s in Tamworth and it’s chalk and cheese.

    In short, I’m moving the first chance I get! It’s a dump with a nice park and Cathedral, that’s it!

  26. Gary… Makes sad reading but all is true.
    The deterioration of Lichfield is shocking from all aspects.
    I have lived here over 50years. But the rot has set in over the past 8/10 years from all aspects.
    Anti Social behavior, no police presence, litter everywhere, questionable investments , poor infrastructure,failures by LDC, the list is endless.
    Soon Lichfield will join the Conurbation of Tamworth ,Burntwood and all the villages in between a great sprawl of Dolls Houses.
    It’s not progress it is regression.

  27. Councillors are no longer in control anymore, they are passengers on a train ride by officers. They want the bus station moved because they want housing , housing = £000s . All this is a smoke screen they will move the bus station because officers have already decided it’s moving , they know where it’s moving too and they have their sights on selling the bus station land for housing …

  28. Gary, l guess it depends where you’ve come from. If you were in the Outer Hebrides before then you might find Lichfield a little rough round the edges. If you’ve moved from Birmingham (as l did), Wolverhampton or Walsall then you’ll probably find it to be a walk in the park. I recognize some of what you day but l find the place to be civilized and very safe.

  29. @Cath, I moved from West Bridgford in Nottingham. Much nicer place to live. I want to go back. I also didn’t realise how strong the Brummie accent is in Lichfield! It’s basically Birmingham these days.

  30. I think that’s the point @Cath Edral. People think Lichfield is nice because they’re comparing it to places like Walsall and Wolverhampton. No offence but that really isn’t saying much. Look slightly further afield and Lichfield really isn’t that great.

  31. Cath Edral it does make me smile as well when people talk about the so called rough areas of Lichfield. I would suggest there are few issues in comparison to many areas 10 miles or so from Lichfield. If Lichfield is considered full of litter then wow.

    Agree with the terrible roads and weeds though. The local councillors must travel by magic carpet.

  32. @Gaz…. There is much in what you say. I have attended planning meetings where the backroom staff make long winded reports while councillors look on uncomprehensibly.
    One (of many) instances was where the main discussion for the Cricket Lane estate was the preservation of the “Roman Hedge”? So no understanding of history either. The lesser importance of infrastructure, house energy preservation, schools, doctors and traffic congestion got scant attention as the ‘officers’ had assured them that current provisions could cope.
    Playing party politics with local communities is wrong! We are being manipulated for such ends. The backroom officers are the puppeteers of our gutless Council…. and they are unaccountable!

  33. People who catch the bus into Lichfield, then cross the road to the Railway station could benefit the city centre if the bus station was moved. Move the bus station to the other side of the city (somewhere, don’t know where, but somewhere), then the commuters could walk through the centre and spend money in the shops, putting money into local workers pockets. They could buy coffees, newspapers, their lunches etc.

  34. Philip – Some councils are officer led some are councillor led. The old adage of officer’s recommend but Councillors decide usually works well.

    A risk in planning is that if something gets turned down the applicant can appeal to the Planning Inspectorate with the risks the application will be granted on appeal with all the resultant costs. At which point the naysayers pop up and say how useless the council is for incurring all these costs.

    To those wanting to see a really bad council have a look at the going’s on in Sandwell – all in the public domain.

  35. @RFW… Thank you for your insight. However your premise surely cannot justify the lack of infrastructure and services that come with the unpopular decisions made. By your analysis we may as well not have a council and just leave it to the officers.
    There are mixed messages coming from our elected representatives regarding environmental impact, infrastructure, building and facilities. Are we just having to accept that the very nature of our city will be degraded in a single generation?
    It is a common theme on this site that residents bemoan what is and isn’t happening. Just exactly who does our council represent?

  36. @Fuggs: I can’t speak for others, but back when I was commuting by public transport, I was looking to make my journey as short and as painless as possible. Placing the bus station some distance from the train station and forcing me to walk across Lichfield, adding both time to the journey and additional concerns about linking bus and train connections would not have left me impressed; it would have been far more likely to leave me cursing the idiocy of urban planners who had placed the bus and train stations so far apart. I also would have been far more focused on making my connection rather than spending money in shops – assuming any of those shops had even been open during my commute.

  37. Staffordshire County Council have responsibility for public transport.

    I could be wrong. I think if LDC own the land. They can do what they want with it and then let SCC sort the public transport problems.

  38. I like Lichfield and I don’t really recognise Gary’s description. Yes, potholes, but they’re everywhere around the country. Most of the people, including the young people, seem very pleasant and the atmosphere in the streets on a Saturday morning/afternoon is quite relaxed. It’s not perfect. Tamworth’s better for things for young people to do and shopping, and the Council seems to have a one-track mind when it comes to building more housing, and best not mention the MP. But it’s still got its charms.

  39. Moving the bus but didn’t know where it was moving to, they knew along what they wanted to do, now we have got secret meeting going on, with civic society involved, who probably don’t use the bus.
    They have wasted more money on how we want the new flats to look, because they can build on complete area with no cinema being built.
    Office space not required, as is shown by police mutual office’s closed.
    I think they will do whatever they want and take no notice of what people sa

  40. Ken H – For clarity, it’s not a “secret meeting”, it’s part of discussions during sounding board events which have been open for people to attend.

  41. @Carl Scholl, have you walked around Lichfield between 6pm and 9pm during the evenings Monday-Friday? To be fair, why would you, nothing is open except for some pubs. But if you do, you must walk around with your eyes closed if you don’t recognise the issues I’ve raised.

  42. Ross- your article from the Lichfield Civic Society, on the 14th June, New location for Bus Station
    Who said :- We cannot at this stage share all we know as this could interfere with important negotiations.
    Is not that a secret meeting

  43. @ Philip… Education, Transport/Highways, Social Services are County Council functions. The CC will respond to the LDC consultation as to whether the application is sustainable covering the grounds mentioned. In fairness all local authorities are under pressure to deliver more new housing so probably yes.

    Also to be clear Councillors should set the policy and officers then recommend a range of options to deliver said policy, which the Councillors decide on, reject, ask to be amended, challenge etc. At least if the Council is Councillor led. If the Council is Officer led then yes it can be as you suggest.

    Part of the disconnect is the one that arises between two tier Authorities and is partly a reason why that LDC runs into trouble as well, because it does not have the critical mass to achieve what it wants. Also this is part of the reason the government are encouraging CCs and DCs to go Unitary i.e. one council runs everything. Cumbria, North Yorkshire, Somerset have recently gone this way. Others such as Herefordshire, Cornwall, Shropshire minus Telford have been this way for some time. Min pop 300,000, max pop 600,000 for a new Unitary. So Staffordshire excluding Stoke would most likely be cut into two unitary authorities.

    Regarding secret meetings anyone can make a freedom of information request asking for communications between Lichfield Council and the Civic Society.

    As mentioned previously buses can still be routed past the station. For those coming into/leaving the City Centre from/to Cannock/Burntwood/Walsall the bus stops on The Friary are the obvious locations anyway.

  44. Just for a little balance to Gary’s comments – I also lived in West Bridgford before moving to Lichfield. I was there about 5 years. Nice place – although people often complained there was little choice in terms of pubs etc because of it’s Quaker past. Nevertheless, despite the lack of pubs, while I was there, two lads tried to break open my head with a baseball bat for absolutely no reason. I’ve lived in Lichfield for 30 odd years now, and nobody’s tried to do that to me since. So it’s all a matter of perspective, really…

  45. Ken H – they weren’t sharing the information that was given at the forums taking place (most at it will likely have been asked not to). They weren’t secret as you could attend had you wanted to.

  46. @Asellus aquaticus, that’s not really relevant. Just recently a 40-year old man was jumped by a gang of youths, mugged and badly beaten just near Stowe Pool in Lichfield. Not so long ago, someone was stabbed at Lichfield City station. There’s crime every day in Lichfield. Judging a place because of a one-off incident is crass. I’m talking about what I see every day around Lichfield, which I certainly didn’t see every day in West Bridgford.

    Just yesterday evening in fact, I was walking to the Garrick and encountered a group of youths shouting and screaming foul language to one another, it looked like they may be about to fight, and throwing litter around. It’s a weekly occurrence. I feel on edge walking around Lichfield in the evenings. I never did in WB, or Wollaton, where I’ve also lived in Nottingham, for that matter.

  47. Thanks Ross. I read local news every day and I’ve not seen anything. If hardly anyone knows about them they may as well be secret.

  48. That’s a bit harsh Gary. We have a canal with no water in it. I bet there’s no other city in the land can boast of that – or of the money that’s been poured into it!

  49. Simon agree with you I have never seen any about the forums, but if they were not secret why don’t we know where the proposed bus station will be

  50. @Sahure: Good point well made. However, if the connection times, weren’t linked, which I’m sure they aren’t, then the available time could be used, to make quick purchase of survival materials.

  51. Getting back to the original point, Cllr Grange hits the nail on the head. Conveniently placed, relatively near the railway station and town centre, there is no better location for the bus station. Yes, it could be spruced up, covered and developed into a more welcoming venue but it is in the right place. Like the rest of the UK, Lichfield is in a steady state of economic decline. Per head of population we have declined from being Europe’s wealthiest country in 1950 to being just a very middle-ranking one. Not only that but the reduced relative position comes with one of the highest levels of economic inequality in the developed world. The social problems and underfunded urban renewal and related new development are symptoms of this economic decline. We may have full employment but how many jobs pay sufficiently well to support a fulfilling lifestyle? The council is operating in an economic environment equivalent to having one hand tied behind its back, hopefully it will not also be deaf to Cllr Grange’s common sense!

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