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Lichfield City 'Master Plan' Consultation

January 26, 2020 12:09 PM
By Cllr Paul Ray

City Centre Masterplan Consultation - Comments from the Lichfield Liberal Democrats
Overall our view is that the draft Masterplan is a good document which presents exciting and positive plans for the future of Lichfield city centre.
Strongly positive aspects
1. The concept of a Green city (para 2.49).
2. Bird Street car park/Bird Street Courtyard/Minster Walk concept (paras 3.21 onwards)
This has obviously been previously proposed and we do support it but LCC and LDC will need to sell this to residents and stakeholder groups because Bird Street car park is a very contentious local issue.
So we would support the proposed redevelopment of Bird Street car park as referred to in the draft Masterplan but on the basis that:
(i) as proposed by the draft Masterplan, some car parking is retained at Bird Street car park;
(ii) the proposed new multi storey car park is built before the capacity at Bird Street car park is reduced;
(iii) electronic signage boards are introduced into Lichfield centre indicating to the public which car parks are "full" and "have spaces" ie as with many other centres. The LDC data apparently shows that there is sufficient car parking in Lichfield even if some parking spaces at the Bird Street car park were given up for the Bird Street Courtyard development; and
(iv) further consideration is given to the car parking arrangements for those attending events at the Cathedral. The Bird Street car park is used heavily when the Cathedral has an event on and a large number of the attendees of such events are elderly who can only walk short distances. The Masterplan will ensure that there is sufficient car parking across the city but, for the reason given above, there is also a need to ensure that there is sufficient car parking within a short walking distance of the Cathedral.
3. Plans for the access from Lichfield City station (Station Square) to the centre of the Southern Gateway Quarter ie on the Birmingham Road Site (BRS) (Paras 2.70 and 3.2 - 3.12). However please see our comment at H (i) below.
Aspects that we do not support or need further consideration
A. Timing
So that there is public confidence in this Masterplan, it is very important that there is some progress onsite at the BRS in 2020. The Masterplan envisages that the residential element will be the first part of the BRS development. We support that subject to the comments at B below.
B. Affordable Housing
The Masterplan needs to emphasise much more than it does, the need for affordable housing in Lichfield. Also as the residential element of the BRS development is likely to be the first element that is built, it is in our view very important that these units are for all residents - and not just more high-end/retirement units. If that was the case then we fear that public confidence in the overall BRS scheme and Masterplan would be negatively impacted (paras 2.9 and 2.38).
C. Leisure
The Masterplan fails to address the replacement of the Friary Leisure Centre. If this facility is not envisaged as a city centre project, will it live on the outskirts of the city, which will make it less accessible by residents of surrounding villages who use public transport?
We have previously proposed a leisure centre (gym and medium-sized pool) on the BRS. The consultants, DLA, have said that they have not proposed this because it would take up a large percentage of the BRS, that sites outside the city centre are better suited and there its space for a gym at the BRS. This needs further consideration and as part of the Local Plan consultation there needs to be sites identified for the new leisure centre that LDC have committed to build by 5 years' time. We have fed that point into that consultation.
D. Food & Beverage offering
The Masterplan needs more emphasis on improving family-led food and beverage. There are plenty of bars and restaurants for the middle-aged in Lichfield but there is a distinct lack of affordable restaurants aimed at families (para 2.7).
E. Office space in the Southern Gateway Quarter
This needs to be flexible enough to house a large employer as an alternative to a number of smaller businesses (paras 2.15 and 3.5).
F. Transport - connectivity between Lichfield City and Lichfield Trent Valley stations. This is an important issue and is just not dealt with by the Masterplan (para 2.21).
G Transport - inadequate car parking at Lichfield Trent Valley station
Para 4.4 (and others) - consideration should be given to providing increased (multi-level) parking facilities at Trent Valley Station, for both commuters from Lichfield, and for visitors, and liaison with the train service operators to provide a combined parking/rail ticket to allow car-free access to the city centre. Money might be made available from the HS2 project for such a scheme.
H. Transport - improvements to Lichfield City train station
(i) The Masterplan doesn't mention updating Lichfield City Station itself in keeping with the wider development. That would probably be for Network Rail but we think it is important to mention as part of the Masterplan. The facilities at the station are very poor considering that we are trying to raise the profile of Lichfield as a tourist destination. There should surely be a station cafe / toilets / cash point etc.
(ii) We strongly agree that there needs to be development of the area immediately outside Lichfield City train Station. The proposal is a new pedestrian crossing(s) rather than an underpass / overpass. We appreciate that the latter would add development cost but it would be a real positive to have pedestrian access which did not depend upon stopping the traffic.
I. Transport - tourism
Paras 2.7 and 2.8 - attracting visitors at weekends and evenings from a wider catchment area will require better public transport facilities at these times.
J. Tourism - hotel facilities
Para 2.14 - though mention is made of the National Arboretum, Lichfield would be an obvious place for visitors to this facility to stay overnight. Is there/will there be sufficient accommodation within the city centre for such visitors? What class of hotel is proposed for the BRS?
K. New development to be sympathetic with Lichfield's heritage and architecture
Paras 2.85 and 4.18 - part of Lichfield centre's charm is formed by the many pedestrian "snickets" between buildings. New developments should incorporate such pathways to encourage exploration on foot by visitors to the city (and for the convenience of residents).
Para 2.10 - the proposed Angel Croft development would provide an excellent pedestrian pathway from the Cathedral Quarter to Beacon Park. We would support this development being given permission to proceed due to the many advantages to this project and would propose that it is included in the Masterplan.
Cllr Paul Ray on behalf of the Lib Dem councillors on Lichfield District and City Councils
19 January 2020

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