City reveals change to ambitious transformation plans

Lancaster’s ambitious plans to transform acres of prime land and buildings are being re-shaped after extensive discussion.

Artist's impression of the proposed development, as seen from Moor Lane

Artist's impression of the proposed development, as seen from Moor Lane

The city council is rethinking the scheme to redevelop the area known as Canal Corridor North, with a more diverse mix of uses, including further housing and business opportunities combined with retail space.

After working alongside its commercial advisors GVA and following months of detailed assessment with its development partner, British Land, the parties have concluded the plan as envisaged should be withdrawn. 

Key to this decision was a determination not to expose council taxpayers to the level of risk which had arisen following a number of constraints around commercial terms.
 
Instead the city council today announced its commitment to press ahead with new proposals for a multi-use development for the 16-acre site, which it is rebranding, The Canal Quarter. 

The council, supported by Lancaster University, has reiterated its belief the area will have a crucial role in the growth and development of Lancaster as a vibrant, modern city.

Councillor Janice Hanson, cabinet member with responsibility for planning and regeneration, said: "We have a huge obligation to get this major development right. We’d very much like to thank British Land for the considerable expertise they have brought to this highly complex process up to this point, but we have agreed to conclude our partnership.

"While the city council remains absolutely committed to the regeneration of the site, the new proposal will be a different scheme, one which supports greater multi-purpose use and is easier to deliver.

“We now want to bring forward for the people of Lancaster an exciting transformation that delivers on everyone’s ambitions for this great city. This includes working with partners to achieve our aspirations for high-calibre arts and culture provision."

The council has identified seven key factors the re-shaped scheme must focus on.

  • Significant and wide-ranging economic benefits without exposing the city council to an unacceptable level of financial risk.
  • Less reliance on additional retail floor space, thereby instilling confidence in the future of the existing city centre shopping area.
  • New uses for historic buildings, capitalising on the canal side setting as part of the physical transformation and regeneration.
  • A range of residential accommodation to suit a variety of purposes.
  • An increase in Lancaster University’s presence in the city centre.
  • Providing more business space especially for Lancaster’s thriving digital sector. This will provide units for future expansion and shared spaces for collaboration.
  • Delivery of an arts hub that achieves the goal of making Lancaster the North West’s primary cultural centre outside of the main cities.

Councillor Hanson said the authority recognised the need to end the uncertainty generated by the long-running history of Canal Corridor North. 

Therefore, it wants to agree an overall plan as soon as possible and for development to be delivered in visible stages. This includes a possible on site start date of 2019 – two years earlier than envisaged in the previous scheme.

The council also wants to take advantage of the latest in green energy development to make the site as self-sustainable as possible.

A report setting out the council's current position and proposals to look at a new way forward for the site will go before a meeting of Full Council on April 11, 2018.

 

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Last updated: 10 April 2018