'Visible progress' promised on new leisure and housing development in Lichfield
Residents "will see visible progress” on a new leisure and housing development in Lichfield city centre this year, the district’s council leader has pledged.
The authority has been working on plans for the redevelopment of the Birmingham Road site, which incorporates the bus station and land formerly occupied by car dealership Tempest Ford, over the past few years.
A previous development plan for that area of Lichfield city centre - named Friarsgate - was axed in 2018 when a private backer could not be found to meet its £54 million cost.
Since then the authority has refurbished Lichfield Bus Station, removed the old toilet block, established a pay and display car park off Frog Lane and placed boards around the former Tempest Ford site.
The area has been dubbed “the gateway to the city” and residents have called for development to be hastened, particularly in the area where Tempest Ford operated.
Doug Pullen, leader of Lichfield District Council, said: "Residents will see visible progress this year, things will start happening.
“We know that what residents would like to see is a cinema, a small number of food and bar units and some public open space.
“I know we have the right mix of leisure, housing space and retail; we need to set out what that will look like.”
Councillor Pullen said a “phased approach” to development along Birmingham Road would be recommended to the council’s cabinet.
He added that electric charging points and variable messaging signs would installed in the city.
“We know people have challenges finding (parking) spaces, we want to make it as easy as possible,” he said.
An historic concern is the risk of the Birmingham Road development drawing trade away from Bird Street and Market Street.
Another proposal, mentioned in the council’s city centre ‘masterplan’ could see the removal of the buildings currently occupied by B & M Bargains and New Look in Market Street, which the council owns, to make way for a open vista through to Minster Pool and the cathedral.
Parking provision would be retained and there would also be new housing and retail development there.
Councillor Pullen said work on this is in the early stages and it presents an exciting opportunity to open up that part of the city.
To residents in the district sceptical that these these development plans for the city would happen Councillor Pullen said: “If I don’t deliver, people can vote me out next time.
“I want to see them happen - my job is to say ‘This is what I want us to do, this is how we are going to achieve it'.”