Current Planning in Lichfield

The April newsletter forecast that the meeting on April 16th would be "informative, full of interest and very well attended". It was all of these, with the ground floor of Cruck House full and an overflow upstairs. "Current Planning in Lichfield" is a title likely to be of prime interest to members but the attendance was also a tribute to the Director of Planning, John Nicholls, who can be relied upon to deliver a well prepared, authoritative, yet honestly personal presentation.

His talk was wide ranging but his central theme was the planning implications of economic development and the promotion of greater employment opportunities. The decline in the number of jobs in the traditional areas of employment - farming, mining and manufacturing - requires alternative job opportunities to be created. Retailing and tourism, in association with the development of the industrial estates, would seem to be the unavoidable answer to the present unemployment situation.

Publication of the Local Plan has been 'short-circuited' by the unexpected availability of the cattle market and Chamberlain & Hill sites. The draft is now expected to be ready early in 1988, when it will be subjected to the consultation process. Mr Nicholls made reference to the mistakes that had been made in the last ten years. This appeared to acknowledge that the rate and type of growth had perhaps not been subjected to the consideration and control which might have been expected.

The retail / office / sheltered housing project between Bore Street and Wade Street, the site next to St John's and the refurbishment of the former Co-op store in Bore Street were referred to as key sites that were currently being developed. The Redcourt House site remains without current proposals.

Mr Nicholls also gave encouraging news of grants available for the restoration of properties within the Conservation Area.

A lively question time revealed members' growing concern for the future of the few remaining open spaces within the City. Vigilance is the key, for all of our most valuable spaces are vulnerable.

Ivor Mitchell
April 1987