New Plans for the Precinct

Following the Society's AGM on Thursday 15th February our speaker was Mr R.W. Boenke of John Clark Associates, the architects responsible for the replacement of Lichfield's shopping precinct.

With the aid of plans and drawings Mr Boenke described how the existing mall would be glass roofed and be capable of being secured. He said that its design was an attempt to create a "market town environment" and described the mall as being a "covered street in traditional material". To many of those present this had the ring of good intention but also hope that it would not mean having disneyesqye-smocked attendants with 'mummerset' accents, patrolling to endless selections from "Merrie England". One founder member later remarked that all semblance to a market town had been finally removed with the closure of the cattle market.

The new Levetts Square is to be roofed. It will continue to serve as a public display and performance space but will deprive the purists of the traditional soaking when it is raining. A mystery "major retailer", described as a "magnet", is expected to occupy the largest unit in the new development - optimistic murmurs of "M & S" could again be heard. Things are rarely all good or all bad - but even magnets have the ability to repel as well as attract.

More certain of a welcome would be the Public Toilets and a Management Centre intended to maintain high levels of comfort and environmental tidiness. A Cafe is planned for the central square and it all begins to sound a bit like many other shopping malls which have been built, unrelated, in other locations.

The loss of some current car parking spaces will be compensated by further parking provision at two levels, with access from Birmingham Road, resulting in a nett gain of 174 spaces. The loss of the existing left hand side of the precinct will cause no sorrow and we were encouraged to believe that its replacement may provide some joy!

Finally, Mr Boenke confirmed that during construction there would be an opportunity for further archaeological exploration of the medieval ditch.

Ivor Mitchell
February 1990