Centros scheme debate rages on

A PUBLIC meeting was held on Tuesday evening to give people a chance to find out more about the latest plans for a new £100m shopping scheme in Lancaster city centre.

The revised proposals for Lancaster’s canal corridor site by Centros were released in March.

Centros were given the chance to revisit plans for the site after Lancaster City Council’s cabinet agreed to extend the period of its development agreement with the developers by five years.

The developer previously had a controversial scheme rejected by the Secretary of State following a public inquiry in 2009.

The meeting at Lancaster Town Hall was independently chaired by Alan Whitaker, a former Pro Vice Chancellor of Lancaster University. It’s Our City member Billy Pye and Green councillor Tim Hamilton-Cox spoke about the scheme.

The proposals see Centros scrapping unpopular plans for a bridge linking St Nicholas Arcades with Stonewell and introducing a supermarket beneath a car park, a new restaurant quarter and a redeveloped canalside area. Centros has worked in consultation with both the city council and English Heritage to produce its new plans, Cal Giles from It’s Our City said the group was pleased with the large turnout at the meeting.

And she said they still had serious concerns about the plans, particularly plans to demolish buildings in Stonewell, the connectivity with the existing city centre, the amount of car parking and impact on traffic.

“We want the city council to pull back from the development agreement so that other developers can put forward their ideas. We are not anti-development but in many ways this plan is worse than the previous one.”

Ann Morris, chief executive of Lancaster District Chamber of Commerce, said: “We had key issues with the previous scheme with regard to road access and the links between the new proposed centre and the existing city centre, and neither of those has been addressed in the proposals.

“However, as a chamber we support redevelopment of the site and we agree that the current provision in the city centre is lacking.”

Centros plan to undertake public consultation and hope to submit a new planning application at the end of this year. If approved, the development could be completed by late 2016 or early 2017.

The development will generate more than 750 retail and leisure jobs in the long-term and 100s of construction jobs in the short term.

It’s Our City will be holding a further meeting at The Gregson Centre in Moor Lane on Tuesday, May 21 from 7.30pm.