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Collapse of the plan to develop the Friarsgate site

June 18, 2018 2:10 PM

Paul Ray - 2015 Election

From Lichfield Live today.

The long-awaited city centre redevelopment scheme for Friarsgate collapsed last week after the Cabinet at Lichfield District Council voted against footing a £49million bill to ensure it went ahead after private funding failed to materialise.

Lib Dem councillor Paul Ray insists the council cannot let the land blot the city's landscape for too long. He adds: "We are now in a total mess and there are serious questions for Cllr Mike Wilcox and the Conservative administration of Lichfield District Council to answer.

"They have to explain how they could let this development progress so far and incur so much cost -including for the demolition of the Kennings Garage site - without the funding being in place for the whole development.

"And more importantly we need an urgent new plan for this site.

"We now have a site in the centre of Lichfield which is in a dreadful and dilapidated state. I am really concerned that it does not remain for years to come an eyesore and just gets into a worse and worse state - urgent action is needed now."

"It is sad that this project to deliver improved facilities for our district has fallen over, but I'm not surprised and the decision of the council to not borrow £49million to fund it is right.

"The finances just did not stack up. The £49million debt would jeopardise the financial stability of the council and so negatively impact on the residents of Lichfield and Burntwood in the future."

Only around £6million had been secured for the Friarsgate development, with the majority coming via local enterprise partnerships.

And Cllr Ray believes the council needs to move quickly to ensure what little funding has been found is used to support an alternative redevelopment proposal.

"Cllr Wilcox needs to get round the table with these LEPs to ensure that this funding is secured for a new plan for our district," he said.

"The Friarsgate site musn't be mothballed for years and years. It has to be developed in particular with improved leisure facilities.

"The Conservatives now need to put together an urgent plan to get us out of this mess."