City’s future is bright

Andrew Dobson, head of regeneration and development at Lancaster City Council.
Andrew Dobson, head of regeneration and development at Lancaster City Council.

There’s a buzz on the streets of Lancaster that can’t be ignored.

Signs of development and regeneration are everywhere from St George’s Quay and Lancaster Castle to fringe sites such as the Moor Hospital and Lancaster University.

Despite a long and difficult recession, the area is poised to become a hotbed of activity.

Many hope that the new developments will trigger further investment and entice more people to live and work in the area, as well as encourage young people to stay.

Eric Ollerenshaw, MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, said: “There is a lot to look forward to.

“Lancaster has always had the potential to go further. My reading of history is that we have not got our act together in the past.

“We used to squabble over the minutiae of schemes like the link road and Centros but now everyone is working well together.

“The link road, Centros, the science park at Lancaster University, the castle, Luneside East, the Moor Hospital – all of these schemes are moving forward.

“I have worked with the city council, the county council, the chamber of commerce, David Morris, the Duchy and others to make sure the schemes go ahead.

“The link road will be a huge addition to the district and it is a good example that working together gets results.

“If we can continue to do this we can present a good case to central Government for further development.

“What central Government wants to see in these tough economic times is people working cooperatively.

“They want to see that if they invest money, we will keep our part of the bargain. They want to know that the money will be well spent.

“We have excellent schools, the town centre is lovely and we are working hard to bring fast broadband to the rural areas so that we can get more businesses into those areas. “These may be difficult times but we have worked hard and have secured the M6 link.

“This will give us the confidence to go further and explore new ideas. All of the schemes will bring jobs and further investment.

“The science park will be a huge development.

“Lancaster University is already a top class institution but we do need the science park to be able to do that extra applied research. It will enable us to keep top graduates with valuable skills in the city.

“All of this gives me real hope for the future.”

Lancaster City Council is keen to stress that regeneration will be key to the city’s future.

Andrew Dobson, head of regeneration and policy at Lancaster City Council, said that being one of the first councils in the country to adopt a Local Development Framework has put the area in a strong position despite the recession.

He said that this had given the council a good reputation with developers.

“If we’re going to keep a good balance in Lancaster, and meet the needs of young people who are perhaps considering a move out of the area, we need to provide them with what they expect, while retaining our own identity,” he added.

“We’ve got to make sure we have the right shopping, make sure the broadband works and make sure we’ve got the right arts and culture offer.

“We have the opportunities to catch up now, but without getting to the stage of spoiling everything.

“The things we’ve got planned for the public realm in the city centre are very exciting, and businesses have played their part in this too by voting in the Business Improvement District (BiD).

“The times have never been better.

“Here we are in the middle of a recession and I’ve got more people knocking on my door than I did during the economic boom.”

A spokesman for Peel Ports, which runs Heysham Port, said: “The M6 link road will substantially improve access to the Port of Heysham.

“This presents expansion opportunities at the port which will take place over a number of years.

“Growth in freight volumes would create new job opportunities as well as other spin off benefits in supporting industries and sectors.

“A particular opportunity for Heysham will be in the Operations and Maintenance sector for off-shore wind farms, and the port already supports an established sector in the Morecambe Bay gas fields.

“Peel Ports will continue to work with and support the local authorities in terms of investment and regeneration.”