Three Shopping Developments

A series of plans for large shopping developments attracted the Society's attention in the late 1980s. The Chamberlain & Hill site on Beacon Street later became first Safeways and then Morrisons; whilst Walter Tipper's large site became Tescos new store.

The following extracts from the Society's newsletters tell the story.

[April 1985]

The development of a 'shopping complex' linking Bore Street and Wade Street is now one step nearer. Outline consent was given some months ago when an attractive and imaginative scheme was also under consideration. Now a developer is being sought and presumably a new scheme will be submitted. Members of the Society and the interested general public await with interest the publication of details. Dare we hope that these will be put on public display?

The press announcement used the phrase "in keeping with the style of architecture" without identifying the style. Here is an exciting opportunity for Lichfield to have an example of high quality contemporary architecture capable of living with both distinction and harmony in the company of historic styles. What we do not want is yet another sentimental pastiche.

[September 1986]

In the Lichfield Mercury of 22nd August, under the heading of "battle begins in race to site city superstore", it was stated that plans were to be submitted for a nine acre 'mini' shopping centre on land at Tippers building yard and the cattle market "this week". By the time of writing (2nd September) the only plans available at the Planning Department were for the conversion of 8-14 Stowe Street into self-contained flats. Members of the Society await with interest and some apprehension what development is to be proposed. The apprehension stems from fears of inappropriate scale and the effect upon traffic volume in this sensitive part of the City.

The Chamberlain and Hill site on Beacon Street is the subject of multiple applications relating to housing, light industrial units, a large food retail outlet, smaller retail outlets and various combinations of a number of these. The Society has commented in support of the housing application which is for 66 private houses and 22 sheltered flats. The other proposals are seen to be inappropriate for this site, not least for the amount of traffic they would generate. The Society has reminded the District Council that it refused permission for a change of use of Springfield School to warehousing for traffic reasons.

The prospect of a "superstore" being built on either of these sites is a cause for concern in the minds of many who fear that the shopping benefits would be gained at too great an environmental cost. One can understand the belief that the brash and ugly might be avoided by sensitive design but the suitability of scale should be judged in terms of context and the environmental stresses which follow large developments.

In its twenty-fifth year the Civic Society appears to be needed more than ever before in order to focus public opinion and to exercise informed influence over the future of the City.

[December 1986]

A public exhibition of options for Shopping Policies in Lichfield will be held at Donegal House (Tourist Information Office), Bore Street, Lichfield on Friday 12th and Saturday 13th December from 9:30 to 5:00 pm.

The exhibition will include proposals by Wintertons and Walter Tipper Ltd for retail development at the Cattle Market site, Church Street, and by Chamberlain and Hill Ltd for retail development at their Foundry site in Beacon Street. The purpose of this exhibition is to canvass the views of the public an the future shopping policies and on the above planning applications. Members of the public are being invited to view the exhibition and discuss it with officers of the District Council's Planning Department. People attending will be invited to complete a questionnaire.

All Civic Society members are urged to make their views known.

[December 1986]

The most significant scheme among recent planning applications is that relating to the proposed linking of Wade Street and Bore Street by a 26 shop arcade, with offices and 36 single bedroom flats in its three storied structure. The Society in its comments has been critical of many aspects from both a practical and an aesthetic point of view. It is seen as over development, inadequately related to the conservation area - particularly adjacent Georgian buildings - and lacking in practical requirements for servicing and parking - just 32 parking spaces for so many commercial and accommodation units. It is felt that the site would respond to a well integrated and comprehensive design of greater simplicity an in a more modern idiom.

Those of us who have looked forward to the removal of the temporary frontage on MacDonalds now know what we have been waiting for. The Lichfield Mercury reported on 17th October that "councillors have stressed throughout the need for the shop-front to be sympathetic to its Georgian surroundings". Is it?

[January 1987]

We hope that many Civic Society members were among the 800 people who are reported to have attended the exhibition of major planning proposals mounted by the District Council in mid-December. More than 300 questionnaires were completed by visitors to the exhibition.

[June 1987]

Among the proposals recently commented on by the Society was the amended plan for the development linking Bore Street and Wade Street through 'Motormania'. We learn that the District Council has refused the application on the grounds that the scheme was an over development of the site and that the detail and appearance of the fronting onto Bore Street would have detracted from adjacent buildings. We are pleased to applaud the District Council's decision.

[July 1987]

The Chamberlain and Hill site in Beacon Street continues to be subject to dispute. Local residents and other supporting proposals for the site to be used primarily for housing, rather than for it to become a large shopping complex, had been heartened to learn of the District Council's approval of the proposal to erect houses. Celebration of the decision the essential residential character of the area is unfortunately premature. This proposal was but one of those submitted by the applicants who have now appealed to the Secretary of State for the Environment "against the failure of the Lichfield District Council to decide within the prescribed period, an application for permission to ... demolish the foundry and erect either two new mixed retail outlets amounting to 65,000 sq. ft., or a 45,000 sq. ft. food retail outlet with 11,000 sq. ft. of light industrial units.". A Local Inquiry is to be held in the Council Chamber, Frog Lane, on 28th July 1987 at 10:00 am. Individuals wishing to have their views expressed at that inquiry are advised to write to the Chief Executive, Mr J.T. Thompson, at least one week before that date. Alternatively, views may be stated in person at the inquiry.

Among other applications examined on behalf of the Society there has been a resubmisison for the flats, offices and shopping mall linking Bore Street and Wade Street through what is at present "Motormania". The plans and documents seen so far by our representatives show streetscape elevations on so small a scale that it is impossible to give a considered opinion about what is intended. Apart from the general design of the buildings, the materials to be used and the details of how they are to be used should be available for consideration. The Society is requesting more information. Many will feel that a development of such size within the Conservation Area merits the fullest public exposure, in fact a model would not only help the public to form an opinion nut would also help members of the Council in their interpretation of two dimensional representation.