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.’