A Chinese consortium, led by Wuhan based Covid Construction Corp, has been appointed to develop Lichfield’s long-awaited Friarsgate shopping and leisure centre.
The scheme was axed in 2018 after Lichfield District Council chiefs voted against funding the development when the previous developer failed to secure private financial backing for the £54 million project.
Covid chief executive Zhang Yue said:
‘This project can be built-out by our skilled immigrant workforce on time and on budget – the time being within two weeks and the budget being 40% of the original estimate.
‘Now that the UK is ignoring EU regulations, we are able to make considerable cost savings – no minimum wages, no health and safety delays and no sustainability or building standards issues.
‘But our workforce will be well looked after; when not working 20 hour days they will spend their free time eating and sleeping at the Ruby and Lee Garden restaurants. There will be plenty of room for our 2000 comrades above the shops.
‘The buildings will be prefabricated in our new facility located on green-belt land around the People’s Province of Burntwood. The units will then be transported along the excellent road network to the Birmingham Road site.’
When slotted together the development is expected to reflect the architectural heritage of the City, as epitomised by the Premier Inn and Friary Car Park, inspired by the Danish Lego movement.
Council leader Cllr Doug Pullem commented:
‘With development funding from Beijing in place there can be an immediate start on site without our previous focus on securing pre-lets of the retail units. However, I can promise that there will be the usual mix of coffee bars, charity shops and hair & nail salons which have proven to be so popular in Lichfield.
‘If all goes well we are hoping to appoint Covid Construction to demolish Friary Grange Leisure Centre and build a state-of-the-art Olympic swimming pool and gym during the May half-term.’
Mr Yue said that in order to recompense local restaurateurs for their hospitality, ‘It is planned that Friarsgate will include a new Oriental food Cash and Carry, incorporating our popular live-animal open market on alternate Fridays.’