Lichfield city centre regeneration projects

Public realm strategy

In our masterplan we have identified the need for an attractive & usable public realm. The public realm is expected to link together the projects within the report to create a city centre that builds upon its strong historic core to become liveable, walkable, welcoming and thriving. This is an important part of the overall development of the city centre and we are concentrating on the achievement of five objectives:

  • To remove street clutter and promote a matching design of signage and wayfinding across the city centre.
  • Ensure pedestrian routes are prioritised in the design new developments (especially important for pedestrian routes which link key areas together).
  • To consider landscaping options that positively impacts upon the environment within the city centre.
  • A matching selection of surface materials.
  • A matching specification of street furniture.

In November 2021 Lichfield District Council approved the Lichfield City Centre Public Realm Strategy and Project Priority Action Plan. This car parking strategy supports the delivery of the Lichfield City Centre Masterplan, which is designed to shape the future growth of Lichfield city centre, setting out opportunities for improving the quality of the city centre environment and the range of different uses it offers, and provide a prospectus for investment in Lichfield.

The Approach

The Public Realm Strategy seeks to enhance the city’s qualities, retaining and emphasising its unique characteristics. Through improving quality, simplifying approach, removing clutter and obstruction, the historic environment is brought to the fore and ease of movement around the city centre is improved. An importance is placed on generating lively streets and space, where people are invited to walk, meet and spend time, extending the life and activity into the public realm.

Development

Our Public Realm Strategy has been prepared in consultation with the major landowners, stakeholders and the local community. As the strategy is to present an overall approach to the public streets and spaces, it was important that the strategy was designed in consultation with both the County Council and City Council.

The development of the Strategy has included an appraisal of the existing materials and street furniture used throughout the city. This has helped to develop a clear vision, supported by design and development principles, to guide future investment in the public realm over the next 20 year period.

The Action Plan

The Action Plan lists the projects from the Public Realm Strategy by order of priority. The reasoning behind the priority is described, as is the reason the project would achieve the aim or realise the benefit. These prioritise must remain flexible, however, as circumstances and opportunities to progress certain projects would be influenced or determined by other projects and developments being brought forward under the broad umbrella of the City Centre Masterplan. A costed Action Plan has been created which includes the key projects and presents them on a delivery timeline by priority

Materials and Finishes

Although a matching palette of materials, furniture and signage has been suggested, the subtle differences in colour and detail, enables the public realm to complement the four quarters of the city centre identified in our Masterplan.

The more recent public realm improvements completed within Market Square, Conduit Street, Bore Street and Breadmarket Street were taken as the model. Here, natural materials have been used for the paving surfaces, with complementary concrete setts used for the vehicular road surfaces.

Gateways and Active Travel

The proposals for the city centre streets assumed that there would be additional restrictions to vehicles within the core area of the city. This places importance on improving the attraction and access on foot from the public transport hubs and car parks into the centre. Proposals were brought forward with respect to improving wayfinding and access from the rail station, Lombard Street Car Park and The Friary Car Park.

Another key piece of reducing traffic within the city centre and promoting health and well-being, is the need to provide a network of active travel routes, with safe and connected cycle lanes and footpaths making car-free access to, and movement around the city more attractive.

Green Infrastructure

Being prepared for climate change is essential and where possible space has been found for the planting of trees and inclusion of measures to cope with stormwater. These include raingardens and permeable paving, which will help with issues, such as urban heating, air pollution and flood risk. Urban tree planting has many benefits, but needs planning well to be successful and advice is given within the strategy on plant selection and achieving the right space and conditions for trees to thrive.

Wayfinding and Signage

Lichfield city has a simple street layout made up of a medieval ladder pattern, with the two rails running north to south from Birmingham Road to the Cathedral and the numerous cross streets connecting the two. However, whilst this can be easily understood, it takes some getting used to, as north to south movements are restricted to the edge of centre.

Wayfinding will play an important part in improving the experience of visiting the city. A key element of the wayfinding strategy is the improvement of a ‘central route’ that links many of the main urban spaces and buildings of interest.

A full system of visitor information is also proposed, from initial online interest, exploration and enquiry to a flexible system of signage within the public realm. A separate family of information posts, plaques and panels is proposed to tell the story of the heritage and points of interest across the city. With all signs and street furniture, the approach is to minimise potential obstructions or clutter, and arrive at a design that is clear and informative, but sits comfortably within the city setting.

Lighting and Public Art

Lighting can play an important role in improving the city, particularly when there are such wonderful buildings, streets and spaces to illuminate. Light can set or change the mood after dark, leading to safer streets, supporting the evening economy and enlivening the many events and festivals. Lichfield is already fortunate to have the majority of the city centre street lights mounted on buildings, which reduces columns and avoids obstruction and clutter. These could be improved in terms of environmental performance and complemented with feature lighting to key buildings and spaces. A Lighting Strategy for the city centre is, therefore, a primary goal.

Similarly, public art is a display of the community’s pride in the city, celebrating and telling of events and people important to the city, and should be promoted. However, it needs to be carefully considered in terms of scale, appearance and message. The potential for temporary arts events is a great opportunity to keep public art central to the culture of the city, promoting discussions, whilst trying out new ideas.

You can request a copy of the public realm strategy by emailing major.developments@lichfielddc.gov.uk