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Flagship housing scheme under way

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Bromford has heralded the development at Lichfield's Friary Outer as "life changing" for the elderly customers who will move from their existing homes to new purpose-built apartments when work finishes in 2013.

The scheme, which got under way in March, is being made possible thanks to a £2.4 million investment by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).

Sixty new apartments - mostly for older people in the Staffordshire cathedral city - will be built. The majority - 54 supported housing scheme units - will offer modern, fit-for-purpose housing for Bromford Support customers moving from the existing Sandford Gate scheme while the remaining six homes will be for shared ownership.

The £14 million project will also transform car parking provision in the city - increasing spaces from 230 to around 400 - and include a new 65-bed hotel to meet tourist demand.

Proposals for the imaginative two-acre development won overwhelming support from Lichfield District Council's planning committee earlier this year, followed by the completion of a development agreement between the partners delivering the scheme.

Initial work on site started in March, with full-scale construction work scheduled to begin this summer.

Project partners include developers S Harrison Developments, the HCA, Bromford and Lichfield District Council. S Harrison is also the developer behind Lichfield's planned Friarsgate scheme.

Paul Spooner, executive director for HCA Midlands, said: "It is fantastic to see work starting here on site. This scheme has continued to be a priority for the local community, and we are delighted that our investment with the Bromford has enabled these first homes to get under way.

"Our investment will also unlock the wider development of Friary Outer, helping to safeguard and create jobs, complement the commercial redevelopment and support of the city's economic growth."

Bromford Support business manager Anna Gillespie describes Friary Outer as a flagship scheme.

"The location of the scheme, close to the city centre, provides great access to local facilities for older people, including access to local parks and direct to the city's retail heart. We've already talked to the residents in Sandford Gate who will be moving to Friary Outer and they are excited at the prospect," she said.

"We're delighted to be involved in this flagship development. More than just providing quality housing, it addresses a number of strategic needs of the city and will play a major part in the regeneration of the city centre."

Bromford customers will move from Sandford Gate when the new homes are completed in 2013 and work will then start on refurbishing the existing building.

Councillor Mike Wilcox, leader of Lichfield District Council, said: "It's great to see work starting on this important development. It will offer older residents central homes, as well as more parking spaces for the city, a new hotel and a restaurant or retail space.

"While Friary Outer car park is closed, we are suggesting that visitors park in the near-by university car park or Sandford Streetcar park."