The developer of Lichfield’s virtual Friarsgate shopping centre, U+I (Development Securities), claims that the redundancy of 24 workers at the Tempest Ford dealership evidences that a start on site has “materially commenced” for planning purposes.
Failure to demonstrate that a positive start has been made on the development by 27 May 2017 will trigger a reassessment of the financial viability of excluding affordable housing from the regeneration scheme.
A spokesman for U+I said:
‘Affordable housing is a curse on developer profit. By forcing the District Council to serve notice to quit on Tempest Ford under the terms of the development agreement we are able to avoid any inconvenient social housing issues being raised again.’
Burntwood mother of five under 4 year-olds Pauline Mycock has worked at Tempest Ford for the past 10 years, she said:
‘I can’t believe it, we were all given our redundancy notices today. How are we going to manage to feed our kids and pay our mortgages? We’ll probably be repossessed and have look to social housing. Oh, hang on a minute…’
Tempest Ford’s managing director Brian Carruthers says the decision by Lichfield District Council and its puppeteer Development Securities to require vacant possession by July 23 has come as a complete shock to him, he said:
‘This has come as a complete shock to me, the dealership has nowhere to go and therefore it has been forced to close. I’d only been given 10 years notice to make alternative arrangements, it’s a bloody disgrace.’
On the brighter side Mr Carruthers has announced a closing down sale:
‘I’m offering great staff discounts on used cars at the moment as part of our redundancy package. And for the more entrepreneurial any offers for my interest in the former Naturana site on Eastern Avenue would be most welcome.’
Dick King, director of Place and Community at Lichfield District Council, said:
‘Friarsgate is a complex £70 million scheme that will bring hundreds of new jobs to the city. We have now served notice to quit on Tempest Ford, laid waste the gateway to the City and thrown 24 citizens on the scrap heap in order to facilitate major works starting on virtual Friarsgate in September. I have accepted that this amounts to a “material start on site” by U+I for planning purposes.
‘But if something doesn’t start coming out of the ground in September then frankly we’re all fckd.’
Local planning officers are celebrating another victory over their arch enemies on the Planning Committee of Lichfield District Council.
Despite planning officers recommendation to grant Revelan Group’s proposals for 77 homes on land off Eastern Avenue, the application was unanimously rejected by the Planning Committee in February.
Revelan appealed and the Planning Inspectorate has now overturned the Council’s decision. Development is now expected to start on site in 2015.
Simon Hawley of planning consultants Harris Lamb, acted on behalf of Revelan, he said:
‘This former industrial site has been vacant since 2007 and despite the Council’s belief that it would be the subject of intense interest from potential business occupiers we have managed to sign-up not a single tenant.
‘Now that we have residential planning we’ll be completing the sale of the site to a national house builder by Christmas.’
Chair of Lichfield District Council’s Planning Committee, local car mechanic Councillor Helen Fisher said:
‘We’re obviously disappointed that the Inspectorate chose to support the professional planning officer’s recommendation to grant consent, but just without the £300,000 contribution to local schools that Revelan would have paid if we had granted the application in the first place.’
The company proposed a mix of detached, semi-detached and terraced housing with an affordable housing provision that is likely to appeal only to railway enthusiasts and those who appreciate natural water features in their living room.
The Council’s rejection of the plan hinged on it’s concern about loss of “employment land” but LDC’s own Employment Land Review had actually revealed the district has an excessive quantity of suitable employment sites. Councillor Fisher commented:
‘Yep, they got us banged to rights with that one. Are they out of time to make an application for costs?’
Dick King, Lichfield District Council’s Strategic Director of Democratic, Development and Legal commented:
‘I’m delighted that I am always right, but you’ll have to excuse me, I need to focus on another round of compulsory redundancies for council staff.’
CONSTRUCTION work on a new industrial development at the former Hepworth Building Products site on Eastern Avenue is expected to start within days now that plans for 77 new homes were rejected this week by Lichfield district councillors.
Doug Brownfield, newly appointed spokesman for property developers Revelan Group said:
‘Now that the Council has finally rejected my former colleague’s half-baked plans for affordable housing with on-site water feature, we can finally get on with the development of the new industrial units. We have had potential employers and commercial property investors fighting for this space for many years. In my opinion, this is potentially the most valuable piece of industrial real estate in the country. For some reason this site has proven to be recession-proof, it’s red hot frankly.’
Jaguar Land Rover property director Kat Convertor could barely contain her enthusiasm:
‘We’ve been looking at this site for the last seven years, we had to take additional space at i54 as the Eastern Avenue option was blocked by the residential planning application. But now we’re making a formal bid. The site has everything: the West Coast Main line is virtually on site, a fully-skilled local workforce and a fast reliable train service from Lichfield Trent Virtual station.’
The residential plan had been recommended for approval by Dick King, LDC’s strategic director for democratic, development and legal services but the economic development officer objected on the grounds that if preserved as an employment site it would instantly generate over 293 new jobs.
Lichfield District Council did receive letters expressing concern over the original housing plan. It was felt issues relating to vehicles and pedestrians had not been dealt with by the proposal, spokesman Trevor Ford commented:
‘Now that the commercial development is going ahead, vehicles and pedestrians will pose no problems for the high volume of articulated lorries and vans accessing the site seven days and nights a week.’
Anyone interested in competing for space on this new development should immediately contact Revelan Group through its website to avoid disappointment