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.’
The new Barnardo’s charity shop in the Three Spires Shopping Centre was officially opened last week. Jason Worley, area business manager for Barnardo’s, said:
‘We are recruiting volunteers to run the new store for free and help fund our Corporate Leadership Team’s salaries and pension funds. Just a couple of hours a week from a volunteer can help put our executives’ children through public school, summer vacations in Tuscany and winters in Klosters. Remember, at Barnardo’s we’re all about the children.’
Local volunteer Paul Mycock, 63, welcomes the arrival of Barnardo’s in the city, he said:
‘There aren’t nearly enough charity shops in Lichfield at the moment. It’s very difficult for us elderly would-be volunteers to find decent unpaid unemployment in the city at the moment. As soon as vacancies arise they are filled by the young unemployed desperate to work for years for nothing, just to give themselves the semblance of a cv in the hope of securing that dream job on the Minimum Wage.’
But Paul is one of the lucky ones, he explained that research is important in preparing for a job interview:
‘Oxfam asked me why I thought I deserved to be an unpaid worker in their organisation, I said
“I’m an elderly sexual predator with a predilection for teenage Haitian prostitutes.”
‘I got the job. Let that be a lesson kids.’
Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan was unavailable for comment, he said:
‘Actually, my son is quite keen on Harvard, if you could just dig a little deeper please.’
A volunteer wrote this. Say thanks with a coffee or a punch in the face on a football pitch.
Barnardo’s photo courtesy of ace Lichfield photographer Robert Yardley and published without his knowledge or consent
The leader of Lichfield District Council, Cllr Mike Wilcox has confirmed that Friarsgate developer U+I has submitted new plans for the long-awaited city centre scheme.
From behind closed doors Cllr Cocks admitted:
‘The original redevelopment proposal for ten junk food outlets, 15 coffee houses, 26 charity shops, 82 apartments, 11 townhouses, a multi-screen cinema, theme park and a marina linking to the restored Lichfield & Hatherton canal has proven to be undeliverable.
‘A “challenging funding market” has meant that no one is prepared to invest in such a load of bollocks.’
Developer U+I claim to be committed to revitalising the gateway to the city. Deputy Chief executive Richard Upton was still at primary school when he came up with the original proposals. He said:
‘I always loved Lego as a kid and built my own Lichfield city centre out of plastic bricks in my bedroom. But now I am older and have to put away childish fantasies for a more pragmatic solution.’
Details are still being worked out but, in a statement prepared by Mr Upton, Cllr Cocks read:
‘We have a new vision for this great city – a car showroom and vehicle hire facility on the corner of Birmingham Road and a new bus station between the showroom and Debenhams with retail kiosks selling and hiring cycles.’
Mr Upton is sure that funding will be forthcoming for such an innovative proposal. Taking time out from opening other new retail developments up and down the country, he said:
‘This plan will deliver the perfect fusion of the desire of Lichfield’s Council tax payers for superior shopping facilities with the means of transport to access such facilities, by car or coach it’s just ten minutes down the road to Ventura Retail Park in Tamworth.
‘And if you look closely you’ll notice a number of significant milestones on the way.’
Addressing concerns that the abandonment of the original proposals could open the door to a more lucrative residential development on the Friarsgate site Cllr Crocks was told to comment:
‘Such a suggestion is ridiculous, as everyone knows that lucrative residential development is planned for the Bird Street car park.’
Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant has taken to wearing a blindfold when out in public in order to reduce any possible contact with his constituents
Mr Fabricant has had a hearing problem for many years, turning a deaf ear to any local issues that do not interest him. In a candid interview with 5SL the MP said:
‘Unless something is likely to impact on my travel arrangements to London, or there is an opportunity to take credit for the successful outcome for a campaign that I have not been involved with, or I can promote of the activities of the West Midlands mayor; then quite frankly I’m not interested.
‘One of the major drawbacks of returning to LichVegas is that my taxpayer-funded long weekends are often disrupted by constituents coming up to me in cafe Nero asking me to do my job.
‘Look, I’ve sorted out Burntwood health centre, I’ve saved the MIU at Samuel Johnson hospital, I’ve secured M&S as anchor tenant for Friarsgate and I will shortly be announcing how I single handedly obtained funding for the Lichfield Southern Bypass. What more do you want?
‘All I ask is that I be allowed to walk unmolested from my grace and favour apartment in Cathedral Close in search of a skinny latte. If the only way to do that is to remove my hearing aid and wear a blindfold when out in public, then so be it.’
Local plumber and Labour activist Paul Mycock is unimpressed, he said:
‘I’m unimpressed. If it isn’t bad enough that he has no interest in his constituents, he adds insult to injury by doing a very poor impersonation of David Bowie’s Lazarus.
‘Talk about raising the dead, he’ll need to start practicing the art of necromancy just to keep his majority with the average age of Lichfield Conservative voters now topping 98.’
Any constituents who have been unable to contact their MP will be able to see him by tuning in to Celebrity First Date on Channel 4 on Thursday 2 November at 10pm.
Local supermarket shopper Pawelek Mycock welcomed the decision, he said:
‘I welcome the decision, many a time I have had to struggle down from Tesco to catch the bus with half a dozen carrier bags stuffed with discounted loaves on a Sunday afternoon. I’ll be able to take a trolley now and park it in the new bay. It’ll work great with bags full of rancid fruit and vege on the night as well.’
The planning application was submitted by Friarsgate virtual developer U+I Group, its deputy CEO and Leader of Lichfield District Council Richard Upton commented:
‘We could see an immediate need to support the local community and provide a safe drop off point for stolen supermarket trollies where your Erdington grooming gangs could deposit unconscious Lichfield girls before catching the train home.
‘Anyone who suggests that this planning application is a cynical move to give the impression that we are pressing ahead with our development plans is mistaken. We already did that when we closed Tempest Ford, threw 24 workers out of a job prematurely and created a derelict site at the City gateway.
‘And just to be on the safe side we’ve submitted another application to move around some parking spaces.’
Friarsgate Shopping Center is expected to open to the public in Spring 2030.
The Friarsgate scheme has received a boost after Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant confirmed that he has successfully negotiated a pre-let agreement with Marks and Spencer to relocate the retailer to the new Lichfield city centre redevelopment.
‘I am delighted to announce that I have secured the future of the shopping centre redevelopment. The scheme had been stagnating for over a decade in the hands of our low-functioning local councillors, I really had no alternative but to step in to salvage the project.
‘I have been in close contact with the CEO’s of developer U+I Group and M&S over the last few months. Since I became involved at the very highest level, as only I could do to be honest, this successful outcome was inevitable.’
The news follows confirmation that Mr Fabricant has also solved another long delayed project, the Burntwood Health Centre.
‘Yes, I’ve been very busy working for the good of my constituents. Not only have I saved Friarsgate but the poor and sick of Burntwood will now get a new Health Centre as a direct result of my intervention at the very highest level.’
‘It will be open within three years. Sorted. Next!
‘Next? Now there’s an idea. Andy, do you have Adam Wolfson’s number?’
Former Cllr Steve Norman was unavailable for comment, he said:
‘Why doesn’t Fabricant just take his high level CEO retail contacts and stick them up his asre.’
Burntwood Town Council’s foray into amateur property development “probably a mistake” admits councillor
Former Burntwood Town Council leader Cllr Richard Mosson has admitted that it was probably a mistake for the Council to commit local taxpayers to a property development vanity project.
The Council offices moved from it’s convenient cost-effective location at Burntwood library to the Old Mining College Centre in 2015. Cllr Mosson said:
‘It was a great opportunity, what could possibly go wrong, signing up to a 35 year full repairing lease of a dilapidated building?’
A meeting of the Town Council’s policy and resources committee last week to considered plans to address the state of the building, including replacement of wooden framed sash windows at a cost of £20,000 and the relaying of floors. The total cost of repairs and refurbishments is currently estimated at over £55,000.
Paul Mycock, an officer in Lichfield District Council’s Legal, Property and Democratic Services department did not want to be identified. He said:
‘I can barely contain myself,’ he laughed, ‘even with the District Council’s resources and proven track record in successful property development projects, we could never make the Old Mining College commercially viable. But we were saddled with a 35 year full repairing lease from the landlord, Staffordshire County Council. We told them we wanted to surrender the lease and they said “fcuk off”.
‘Thinking that maybe they had been a little harsh, the CC came back to us to say that they would take a surrender but only if we could find some other mug to take it on on the same debilitating terms.
‘There was a knock on the door and who should be there but former Burntwood Town Councillor Steve Norman. And the rest, as they say, is history.’
The Town Council meeting considered various solutions to the dilemma. Cllr Sue Woodward suggested approaching the producers of DIY SOS or the Restoration Project. Unelected leader of the Council “Cllr” Norman Baker responded:
‘Don’t be so ridiculous Sue, after all it was you and your husband that got us into this mess. No, what I propose is that we spent £5,000 on flowers and a new lawn and introduce a mini crazy golf course. And we should invest in photo’s of Town Council Chairmen past and present to adorn the stairway and the charge local taxpayers who want to view. We could announce these innovative plans on a new £1,000 message board.
‘Sorted. Now where’s my cab? Has anyone seen Brian? The old fool.’
The Town Council’s plans can be seen HERE