Comments on the Birmingham Road Scheme
by Lichfield Civic Society

Following our attendance at the Stakeholder Meeting on 27th February and in response to the contents of the website, Lichfield Civic Society wishes to submit the following comments for consideration by the Council when the project is progressed.
  • Long Term

    1. The society welcomes the new "listening" approach of the Council to the development, and the stated intention to act positively in seeking the views of the public, local organisations and interested parties.

    2. We welcome the stated intention to consider a mix of appropriate uses for the site that complement the existing the existing City Centre, does not compete with it, fulfils needs that are at present not provided for and has the broad support of the people of Lichfield.

    3. We support the notion of creating an attractive and welcoming entrance to the City Centre for residents and visitors, including provision of an improved transport hub catering for rail, bus and coach passengers, and parking provision for car users, as well as creating improved, paved, signed and landscaped access routes for pedestrians and cyclists.

    4. The Society is supportive of a high quality development which is compatible with the City Centre Conservation Policies, and enhances the character of the historic asset of the City Centre through appropriate design, height, massing and materials. The development scheme should give particular consideration to:
    a) retention of views of the Cathedral from City Station and the entrance to the development and from the gateway entrance of St John Street; and
    b) the setting of St John's Hospital and the Old Grammar School.

    5. We welcome the reality expressed regarding deliverability of the development, and accept that phasing of development may be necessary to ensure that its provision is appropriate and timely.

    6. The Civic Society is concerned about the lack of clarity / certainty at this time as to the future of the multi-storey car park and its relationship with the development project. Because of the known structural issues, the approach to be followed and timing of action needs early resolution.

    7. The Society is concerned about the safety and ease of access for pedestrians when crossing Birmingham Road and St John Street at present. Increased numbers of pedestrians will need to be catered for in future and greater priority in implementing appropriate facilities should be an integral part of the planning of the development. The principle concerns are the crossing of Birmingham Road to and from he railway station, and the crossing of St John Street at the junction with Birmingham Road. At the latter, in particular, there is no central refuge for pedestrians and this is seen as an extremely unsafe situation, which could be resolved as part of the development scheme.

  • Short Term

    1. The Civic Society supports many of the proposed actions to bring forward improvements to the site at an early date. However, the Society is concerned that what is planned as short term works may actually turn out to be long term. Additionally, at present, details of exactly what is to be done is not known. A prime example of this concern relates to the proposal to replace the toilet block with temporary toilets. If the type being envisaged is a portacabin style facility, it is feared this will give a poor overall impression of the City at this important location, and be completely inappropriate for the site. Something more substantial is vital, as these facilities may be there for a number of years.

    2. The Society has great concern at the lack of early action to address the former Tempest Ford section of the site. Retention of the hoardings in any form is of great concern because of its unfortunate visual impact at this 'gateway' to the City Centre. It is appreciated that ground conditions, particularly the buried fuel tanks, present difficulties and have cost implications in resolving the problem. Notwithstanding this, the Society wish to suggest further consideration is given to early resolution of the issue, which could create both short term and long term gains. It seems possible that expenditure on "reclamation" of that section of the site at this time would enhance the value of the site by the amount expended. The alternative of deferring action would leave the issue to be addressed later, with an increased cost, and the site value would remain constrained until actions are implemented.

Mike Pearson
March 2019