I am old enough to remember when £100,000 seemed like a lot of money.

These days it is just about enough to pay the weekly wages of a Premiership footballer.

But is it enough to kick-start a retail revival in places like Lichfield?

The £100,000 coming Lichfield’s way is the result of the Government’s response to the Portas Review of our ailing High Streets. Lichfield was one of the shopping destinations chosen to receive a share of the investment fund with the focus on bringing empty shops back to life.

Lichfield undoubtedly needs help. The city centre is overdue some TLC and redevelopment, although the jury remains out as far as some are concerned that the planned Friarsgate scheme will address the issues that Lichfield is facing.

Depending on which publication you read, the wider £10m investment fund and plans put forward by the Government are either a bold step forward in rejuvenating our High Street or a wasted opportunity.

It does remain to be seen whether these plans and the investment have the desired effect, or represent a drop in the ocean in the fight to reverse years of under-investment and stagnation on our High Streets.

The main recommendations of the Portas Review would all benefit Lichfield and other towns and cities across the UK.

Improved management of High Streets with new “town teams”, affordable central car parking, a “Town centre first” approach in planning, disincentives for landlords who leave shops empty and greater inclusion of the main retail provision in neighbourhood planning are all common sense solutions. Lichfield needs to prove it is open for business, for local residents, for those working in the city and those visiting.

In that respect, Friarsgate represents just one element of Lichfield’s revival – albeit one with a multi-million pound price tag.

Compared to the investment in Friarsgate, £1000,000 represents loose change.

And yet it could well have a much more profound and long-lasting impact on Lichfield.


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