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Councillors say Lichfield cannot afford to see another project fail after new leisure centre funding concerns are raised

September 26, 2021 3:35 PM

A recent meeting of Lichfield District Council heard a funding gap of £6.65million posed a "substantial risk" to the proposals for a new leisure centre at Stychbrook Park.

Cllr Ray had previously suggested the Birmingham Road site - which had been earmarked for the failed Friarsgate city centre redevelopment - could be a potential home for not all but at least some new leisure facilities to replace those at the Friary Grange Leisure Centre, but such a proposal was ruled out by council chiefs.

Cllr Paul McDermott and Cllr Paul Ray, Lib Dem representatives at Lichfield City Council and Lichfield District Council respectively, said in a joint statement that residents should not be let down again by those responsible for the future of the city.

"The leisure centre at Stychbrook Park will be a real boost to north Lichfield which contains some of the most deprived areas in Staffordshire.

"However, we can already hear noises from the Conservatives that they may not be able to raise the funding for the new leisure centre and we see this as a matter of grave concern.

"This project must not fail due to a lack of proper preparation.

"We cannot afford to have yet another scheme stalled part way through the process. Lichfield District Council must produce and implement a coordinated funding strategy for the various planned projects.

"For example, the council owns all the land opposite Lichfield City station - now known as the Birmingham Road site - and we say that a part of that site should be used to build affordable town flats and houses which will generate funds for the council.

"Surely income from this and other developments on the site could then be used to part fund the leisure centre?

"Lichfield residents have already expressed their view that a leisure centre in the city is a priority. If the Conservatives will listen to these residents - and share the view that the leisure centre is a priority - they will find the money."

Cllr Ray said he understood why some were opposed to the plans to build on the green space, but added that, if the Birmingham Road site could not be used, it was the best option of those put forward by the local authority.