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Lichfield District Local Plan

January 31, 2020 4:27 AM
By Cllr Paul Ray

Lichfield local elections 2019 (Lichfield Liberal Democrats)

Lichfield Local Plan Preferred Options - Lib Dems

Lichfield is a great city to live in. It should also be a great city to work in. Unfortunately, so many Lichfield and Burntwood residents must commute out of the area each day to go to work. With its highly skilled workforce, strong road and rail connections to the rest of the country and available land for development, the Lichfield area can provide an excellent location for businesses looking for a site in the Midlands.

The plan talks a lot about attracting high quality employment in the professional, scientific, technical and industrial sectors to Lichfield and how this will achieve an objective of reducing residents' commute time. We agree with this, but feel that further consideration should be given to ensure sufficient land is allocated for the businesses providing these types of employment. This point should be included in the "Preferred Policy Direction" section.
Some of the land allocated for employment purposes will be for SME/startup businesses e.g., Cricket Lane. Again we support this, but sufficient land should also be allocated for larger employers.

We know that there are essentially only two large employers in Lichfield city (Police Mutual and LDC) and if we could attract two or three more, this would be game-changing for Lichfield (by providing local employment, in turn good for the local economy, and bringing increased revenue in the form of business rates to LDC.

This also links into the LCC Neighbourhood Plan which focuses on Lichfield economy/employment.

Leisure facilities in Lichfield are poor for all generations and in particular the young. A cinema is popular and we need a new leisure centre in Lichfield as the Friary Grange is a tired and old facility - and just not acceptable for a city the size of Lichfield. We are living in times when the importance of healthy living and an active lifestyle are rightly heavily promoted. So a new publicly funded leisure facility easily accessible from the centre of Lichfield would be a really positive message to the and would link directly into the council's public health responsibilities.

We know that leisure is under provided in Lichfield. LDC has committed in October 2019 to provide a new publicly funded leisure centre in five years' time. Land options should be provided for this in local plan, and the Preferred Policy section should specifically refer to LDC's commitment to build this new leisure facility within five years.

The district needs more houses for its current residents - and their children and grandchildren. Housing in the district is just too expensive especially for young people and their families. Too many new houses and apartment complexes are high-end and retirement developments and do not provide the sort of affordable homes that are needed. There are currently 1,379 people on the housing waiting list in Lichfield and Burntwood, but last year only 235 affordable homes were built. We believe that social housing is key to providing a solution to the housing crisis. We therefore want to see partnerships with Bromford and other housing associations to build more housing including under the staircasing model which enables tenants to own their property step-by-step. We also support measured residential development through the Housing Development Company that the council has set up. BUT houses on their own are insufficient. Any new development must include sufficient infrastructure, such as GP services and school places to support the residents. These services are currently beyond stretching point in our district.

The report identifies the lack of public infrastructure as the population of Lichfield grows, e.g., new secondary school and GP facilities. Land for these needs to be allocated. We would suggest that specific reference is made in the Preferred Policy section below 16.16, that a consideration with all planning permissions for residential housing must be the sufficiency in the relevant part of the district of school places and access to GP facilities.
Similarly with the granting of planning permission for residential housing close to neighbouring districts, e.g., to the north of Tamworth, detailed consideration must be taken of the impact on public services and infrastructure in that neighbouring district.
At 14.33 and the "preferred policy direction" section below 14.36, we do need a better mix of tenures with the new housing, i.e., not just for private sale, but in particular social and affordable rent via housing associations
Section 14.34 refers to the 40% affordable housing target being aspirational. LDC just doesn't hit this because developers put the council under pressure ("we can't make sufficient margin if AFH is 40% and so we can't commence the development"). There should be a hardwired minimum AFH requirement (we suggest 35%) below which LDC cannot go when granting planning permission on the larger developments where AFH must be provided. This point should be made in response to Question 10 below 14.36.

Liberal Democrats believe that the climate change emergency is real, and efforts must be made to mitigate the effects, at local as well as national levels. This applies to Lichfield, which sadly lags behind the national average in areas such as tree cover, waste recycling, and so on.

The environmental agenda - specific plans to deal with climate change issues are limited.
The city needs to provide sufficient EV charging points. The plan also importantly refers to energy conservation/efficiency measures in connection with property development and a specific target should be set for this. This point should be made in response to question 4 below 11.9.
Section 11.20 refers to locally produced energy e.g., by wind turbines and biomass and talks generally about how much local electricity these could produce. There should be specific targets set. This point should be made in response to question 5 below 11.23.

Lichfield city centre is one of the more lively and prosperous in the area , but city
economies are changing as more and more of the retail market moves from bricks and
mortar to online shopping, and from city centres to out-of-town retail parks. We welcome a
reinvention of the concept of the urban centre which keeps these alive and vibrant with a
mix of uses.

The Preferred Policy section relating to the Lichfield economy below 15.21 says that "within the primaryfrontages, any changes of use applications from retail to other non-retail uses will be resisted where it would undermine the vitality and viability of the city centre.". That seems too restrictive at a time when
city/town centres need to reinvent themselves for example with more leisure and office facilities and residential housing. We suggest that that is removed. (21 is also relevant here)
Lichfield city centre is one of the more lively and prosperous in the area , but city economies are changing as more and more of the retail market moves from bricks and mortar to online shopping, and from city centres to out-of-town retail parks. We welcome a reinvention of the concept of the urban centre which keeps these alive and vibrant with a mix of uses.

What do you think?

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