An artist's impression of the new cinema in Lichfield
An artist's impression of the new cinema in Lichfield

Formal plans have been submitted for the new cinema development in Lichfield.

The proposals would see the former Debenhams site become a four-screen facility.

The development would also see the demolition of existing retail units at 36 to 44 Baker’s Lane to “support the revitalisation of the city centre” by allowing a link through to the area proposed for redevelopment as part of the Birmingham Road Site project.

However, the new cinema will allow for the creation of seven commercial units.

A planning statement said:

“The proposal in its simplest terms can be characterised as the repurposing of the former Debenhams – which has been vacant for almost two and a half years – and is the largest commercial unit in the city centre.

“That closure has presented a significant challenge to the city centre, but also an opportunity to diversify its offer, reducing its reliance on retail to attract the local community into it.

“The proposal complements and is critical to facilitating the council’s wider strategic ambition to regenerate significant areas of the city centre.

“The proposal will ensure that this new area can be directly accessed from existing pedestrian routes by creating new pathways to it and footfall through the introduction of new town centre uses, therefore maximising the opportunities for the success of that wider strategic regeneration and the overall vitality and viability of the city centre.”

Planning statement

The plans say four of the new ground floor units are intended to be operated by food and beverage businesses, while a leisure unit is also scheduled to be located on the first floor.

A restaurant is proposed on the second floor with an external terrace featuring views across the city centre.

“Vitality and viability of the city centre”

An evaluation by specialists from Prime Retail submitted with the planning application says that demand for former Debenhams sites across the country had not been high, with statistics in August suggesting around 80 remain empty.

A planning statement from Three Spires’ owner Evolve Estates said the cinema proposal would provide a realistic chance of bringing the former department store back into use.

“The closure of Debenhams in Lichfield is reflective of that national pattern but also of a localised picture that has seen Marks and Spencer leave the city centre in the last five years.

“The consequence of this has led to a negative impact on the vitality and viability of the city centre.

“Given the unit is the largest in the city centre, this significantly impacts on not only the attraction of the city centre to users, but also the perception to occupiers and landowners over whether it is a location where investment can succeed.

“Evolve has investigated options to repurpose the existing building in a way that secures a new anchor tenant, supports the vitality and viability of Lichfield city centre and widens its offer and local economy, improves the quality of the public realm and also helps to facilitate redevelopment of other city centre sites, notably the Birmingham Road Site.

“This proposal illustrates that there is an exciting opportunity to utilise this site far greater to the benefit of local business and the wider community.”

Planning statement

Full details can be seen on Lichfield District Council’s planning website.

Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.

17 Comments
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Jay
8 months ago

Welcome back 2020

Anna Leggett
8 months ago

All these food and beverage units and a restaurant. Who is going to afford to keep eating out? Where are people going to park for the cinema if the car park is demolished. How does this impact the theatre and cinema which already rely on patrons buying food nearby.
Why do we have large patches of grass tgat need mowing in the car park next to the multi storey. Why is the whole site not for cars who pay to park. Why do council workers get free car parking when nurses have to pay to park in hospitals.
Who makes these decisions and why so long since Tempest Ford were pushed out and revenue from that site lost?

Grumpy Old Man
8 months ago

There will be objections, financial constraints, and a multitude of red tape to work through before this, if ever materialises.
For Gawd sake LDC, get your creative skills working.
The folks of Lichfield City deserve better

Kathleen Didcock
8 months ago

Please do not put something as ugly as that in our beautiful city. It’s destroyed more every year. Our Council has no respect for it whatsoever.

Hall
8 months ago

I don’t know how this new building is going to survive for very long if the Multistorey car park is going too.

Gerald
8 months ago

I’m looking forward to visiting the cinema, which I hear will be run by an exciting new player in the cinema business, Doug Pullen’s Very Keen Imaginary Cinemas Inc.

Gurt
8 months ago

100% never going to happen. Since covid cinema chains have struggled to turn a profit. Not a single one would build in Lichfield.

Maybe build a sports centre there instead of taking up green fields?

Toby
8 months ago

Could be 2 more years before opening – if ever!

Mat
8 months ago

God almighty there are some depressing people commenting on this article. Anna Leggett, you’re informed there might be a cinema, which is plenty better than the empty building that sits there now, and your first reaction is “Well why isn’t the lawn mowed? Why is there so much injustice regarding car park fares? Who would even go to it? Who can afford to eat out nowadays? Why is the sky blue since I’d like to argue it’s red? Do you actually hear yourself?! Yes, perhaps the cinema will never happen. But personally I’ve been looking forward to it for years, as have plenty of people I know. I will be there plenty often enough and I might even go for dinner there too. Maybe it’s just better suited to people like me who are trying their best to stay positive about these things, rather than you bunch of absolute misery guts who have populated literally every single comment above me.

Rosie
8 months ago

Here we go again. New Cinema and More Food Outlets.
Seeing is believing and like Failed Friarsgate/Birmingham Road, New Bus Station,,Multi Storey Car Park Demolishment , Leisure Centre. etc etc. All false promise.
These projects will never ever materialize.

Ken H
8 months ago

Is the Friary Shoe Shop in this?
Where is is temporary car park going now, when the multi storey car park demolished

Richt
8 months ago

A positive step forward to re-generate this part of the city centre and offer a much needed leisure use to the city.

BigStephenS
8 months ago

@Mat, the negative comments about these latest announcements simply reflect the public mood. A public that has been been on the receiving end of too many announcements that consistently over promise only to then under deliver. When something worthwhile is actually delivered perhaps the mood will change but until then the level of cynicism is not suprising and probably fully justified.

Mrs Brown
8 months ago

There has to be a film operator who can receive, & show latest films. Without Co this is a non starter. 2 of the big 3 operators are “technically insolvent” in UK, & 2 of the smaller ones are not expanding due to adverse competition – so Toby is right at least 2 years before we can visit 7 see films, meanwhile The Red Carpet in Barton is doing well!

Alvin Cox
8 months ago

If you want to bring customers to Lichfield City why oh why are you removing a multi story car park where thousands of people park so that they can shop and use the Garick theatre to bring money into the city , doesn’t sound like good business sense to me and a few thousand people who will have to find parking space that is not near to the City centre, have another think about what you are doing please.
From concerned citizens and visitors who might not use the city and facilities once you have made thier lives a misery.

Ian
8 months ago

I fear for the Garrick.

Part of going to a venue is the ease of access/transport. For many going to the Garrick that means using the very convenient multi storey car park.

Chris
8 months ago

Can I get suggest that when the often imagined new cinema finally arrives that the first film to be shown should be the 1963 Italian drama “Hands Over The City. A classic black and white production in Italian starring Rod Steiger with a central theme of using political power for personal gain.