Some of the country’s top architects have been brought in to unlock the potential of Lancaster’s canal corridor site.
The beleaguered site is the subject of a new £75m retail and business scheme, under the guidance of London-based British Land, who took over the reins from former developers Centros last year.
And British Land have now brought on board architects Chapman Taylor to design the scheme, which covers land between Lancaster canal and the city’s one-way system and includes numerous historic and listed buildings.
Chapman Taylor are renowned for their work on huge projects in Leeds and at Media City in Salford and are also he lead architects for the proposed £5.5 billion Liverpool Waters scheme.
Centros – whose own plans for the site were turned down by the Secretary of State following a public inquiry – will work alongside British Land as project managers to deliver the scheme, with Richard Griffiths Architects as the historic buildings architect.
To begin its engagement with the local community, British Land will be posting an introductory leaflet to every home and business in the Lancaster City Council area next week.
A project website – www.canalcorridor.info – has also been established and the aim is to make this a constant source of up-to-date information on the scheme as it evolves over the coming months.
Richard Wise, head of UK retail asset management and development for British Land, said: “Our aim is to deliver a scheme that complements the site’s historic setting and we look forward to creating a retail and leisure destination to serve local people and attract significant numbers of visitors to the city.”
Andrew Dobson, head of regeneration and planning at Lancaster City Council, said: “They [Chapman Taylor] have dealt with some of the country’s most important centres.
“I am satisfied that the approach will be more qualitative.
“We have not only got the full support of English Heritage on this scheme but also top quality architects.
“The key to the success of the scheme is that it must look like a part of Lancaster.”
Paul Cusimano, Chamber of Commerce director and chairman of Lancaster city retail group, said: “I look forward to seeing the new plans and I hope that they are sympathetic, complementary and in keeping with the city.
“If the city centre, Duchy and British Land can work together we could have a superb city here.
“We need to look at the whole picture. It’s only a compact city but we have got the ingredients for it to be a phenomenal city.”
Lancaster Civic Society chairman Jenny Greenhalgh said the group would be following the plans closely.
“I think we are a bit more optimistic than we were previously that things might progress with a little more pace,” she said.
The British Land development team has already started to engage with both English Heritage and key stakeholders such as the Dukes and Grand theatres.
Depending on how soon planning permission can be secured, construction could start as early as 2015 and the development completed in 2017.
A ‘community day’ is being held in Market Square on May 14 for people to learn more about the plans.