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Canal Quarter update

A blueprint for off-street car parking in Lancaster will make sure the city maintains the appropriate number of spaces to cater for people visiting the city to shop, socialise and sight-see.

St Leonardgate car park, part of the Canal Quarter development area

St Leonardgate car park, part of the Canal Quarter development area

That’s the pledge from Lancaster City Council following concerns raised by the business community about the impact that development of the Canal Quarter site will have on car parking spaces.

A masterplan to transform the Canal Quarter, and address the derelict areas within it, was approved by the council in July and will eventually see the building of hundreds of new social, affordable and private housing units.

While expected improvements to public transport and other initiatives by the city and county councils should see demand for parking spaces fall, the council recognises that having appropriate parking in the city centre is important.

In response, the city council is developing options on how it will continue to provide the appropriate number of parking spaces to support the local economy. This will include making best use of the spare capacity that already exists in other car parks within the city to reduce any impact.

Councillor Nick Wilkinson, cabinet member with responsibility for regeneration, skills and digital innovation, explained: “Development of the Canal Quarter has been on the cards for many years. We are all acutely aware of the national and local housing crisis and it is vitally important for local people and the local economy that we help to provide much needed, good quality, and affordable housing for local people.

“There are few other sites under the city council’s control where we could undertake similar housing schemes that will attract a comparable amount of investment, and we must make sure that we take advantage of this opportunity.

“The people that move into the new properties will also be consumers for services provided by businesses in the city centre, however, I do also recognise the need to maintain the appropriate number of parking spaces for visitors to our beautiful city.”

Councillor Jean Parr, cabinet member with responsibility for planning and placemaking, added: “We understand there are concerns, particularly from the business community, about the plans for the Canal Quarter and the impact on the number of parking spaces that will be available.

“On average our car parks run at somewhere between 60%-85% occupancy so there is scope for some reduction without it effecting the ability for people to find a space. We’re also expecting demand to fall in the coming years as more people use public transport or other means of travel such as cycling and walking.

“That being said, there will always be a need to provide parking spaces, which is why we’ll be setting out what we will be doing in mitigation and we welcome the views of Lancaster BID and other stakeholders to make sure we’re taking everything into account.”

The Canal Quarter masterplan was almost four years in the making and involved multiple rounds of consultation and engagement before being approved in July 2023.

Last updated: 07 November 2023

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