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Frog Lane MSCP end of an era

Frog Lane Multi Storey Car Park LichfieldMakers have been closely associated with Frog Lane MSCP in Lichfield City Centre. Built in 1968 using a warp slab design the car park has always provided convenient parking to the Three Spires Shopping Centre and the nearby Garrick Theatre.

Depending on your point of view you either loved it or hated it but attached to the TJ Huges department store later to be taken over by Debenhams both stores brands collapsed leaving the premises empty and the car park under utilised for a number of years.

Makers involvement came when the car park was condemned in December 2009 to the consternation of local businesses and traders. The sudden overnight closer following an engineer’s report cited “under design and subject to imminent collapse” left Lichfield District Council (LDC) with little choice than to close it. The pressure applied by local traders meant LDC had to find a solution, whilst always being talked about in terms of redevelopment this seemed a distant cry from the financial crisis of 2008.

LDC decided to extend the life of the car park for a further 5 years after a 2 stage tender process to redesign the original concepts that it had previously had drawn up. The original scheme being unworkable and taking over 20 weeks to complete. Working alongside Cundall Johnson Partnership Makers produced a new design and began works in the August of 2010 promising to deliver the car park back in 12 weeks in time for the traders Christmas run in.

Frog Lane Multi Storey Car Park Lichfield - testing  Frog Lane Multi Storey Car Park Lichfield - refurbished columns Frog Lane Multi Storey Car Park Lichfield - refurbished columns  Frog Lane Multi Storey Car Park Lichfield - concrete repairs

The car park was suffering from punch and shear and so the design was introduced to increase the load capacity at the perimeter of the columns. The brief was to make the users feel that improvements were always part of the original structure.

154 column locations had to be individually strengthened but the design had a compromise to head clearance and so the car parks capacity was reduced from 440 to 340 parking spaces. The car park was originally created on a 6.60m grid which meant parking spaces were very tight and so the new design allowed the parking bays to be expanded to 3.30m creating 2 spaces where originally there were 3.

Frog Lane Multi Storey Car Park Lichfield - new parking baysAdditional waterproofing measures were introduced and the car park was subjected to stringent load testing to test deflection and micro strain achieving less than 1.5mm of deflection and 75 microstrains, where 500 is the limit for collapse so the car park completely passed and opened on the 5th November 2010.

Makers returned back to Frog Lane in 2021 to replace the top waterproofing deck. Originally due to financial constraints the surfacing was adopted back in 2010 but was showing signs of fatigue but the car park now is subject and centre of a redevelopment scheme where it will make way for a 4 screen Everyman Boutique Cinema, retail eateries and community plaza with the development completing n 2026.

The demolition of the car park will take 26 weeks and will need to be separated from adjacent retail units. It is likely that the demolition will have additional complexities particularly from the 154 locations that contain 1 tonne of addition 70 KN concrete and reinforcement cages.

Frog Lane Multi Storey Car Park Lichfield Top Deck with Spires in the background“I am saddened to see the car park go; it gets a mixed press from locals but I have a strong personal connection to it. It was none stop for 12 weeks, 7 days a week, and everyone who worked on it gave 100%. LDC wanted it to last 5 years we jumped through hoops with their designers but were proved right, 14 years on its still performing but now making way for leisure activities, somehow, I feel that they are knocking a piece of me down too…”

Simon Lamb MD Makers

“The car park has been in operation for more than 50 years and has undergone extensive repairs and maintenance to extend its life span. Initially after demolition we will offer up the space to pop ups and new start-up businesses but by removing the car park it will allow us to transform the areas creating a vibrant hub for leisure activities…”

Andy Smith Councillor LDC

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