Advantage West Midlands has withdrawn financial support from the
proposed Friarsgate Gate Centre in Lichfield City centre. Mick Laverty,
Chief Executive of Advantage West Midlands, has told Michael:-
"Unfortunately we will not now be providing funding to the redevelopment
of Friarsgate in Lichfield City Centre.
"As you will appreciate, these have not been easy decisions to make and
had circumstances been different and our budgets not been affected we
would have been able to progress these projects as originally envisaged.
"Rest assured, we have adopted a systematic, thorough and consistent
approach to our review to ensure that we have prioritised those projects
that deliver the largest possible impact to the regional economy."
Michael Fabricant responds by saying: "This is disappointing news
though with the economic downturn, I am not surprised. I have known for
some time that the shopping centre developer has been experiencing
difficulties finding stores willing to expand into Lichfield and
elsewhere. This is a national problem and I fear this means that
Friarsgate is dead in its planned form for the foreseeable future.
"While some who have objected to the development will rejoice, I am now
keen to encourage Lichfield District Council to have a total rethink and
examine alternative schemes which will provide the shops we need without
having a negative impact on the character of our Cathedral City. I hope
the Council will treat this unfortunate set-back as an opportunity.
‘Friarsgate Mark 2’ could be a real and quality asset to our City and be
built in keeping with our historic City heart. A few similar towns and
cities have achieved this – we could too.
"Meanwhile, and on a parallel track, I have already encouraged the
Council to make contact with John Lewis who are now launching up to 30
smaller ‘stand alone’ department stores in the UK – despite the
recession. These stores are like their larger cousins, but will not
stock clothing so will not damage local traders. Nor will they be
dependent on being part of some huge development. I have given the
names of key John Lewis personnel to the Council and I know they are
making contact with the employee-owned company who already have a
successful track-record of trading in Lichfield with their Waitrose