M&S is ‘major hurdle cleared’ for new Morecambe shopping park

How the Frontierland site looks now, with the Polo Tower in the distance.

How the Frontierland site looks now, with the Polo Tower in the distance.

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Developers of a new shopping park in Morecambe say the final pieces of the puzzle are finally falling into place.

Opus North has once again reassured residents they are fully committed to building a new ‘Bay Shopping Park’ at the ex-Frontierland site.

And the Yorkshire firm said planning consent for a Marks and Spencer Foodhall was a “major hurdle cleared”.

A spokesman for Opus North said: “M&S has long been viewed as a catalyst to pushing other retailers over the line and we hope to make further significant progress in the New Year.”

Morecambe people have been growing impatient for work to start on the derelict former Wild West theme park, which has been vacant since 2000.

Opus North got planning permission for the multi-million pound seafront shopping park in 2014 and originally planned to start work in 2015.

But a series of delays have left residents frustrated.

A spokesman for Opus North said: “The Morecambe community has been patient and we appreciate this and understand how eagerly everyone awaits a start on site.

“We remain entirely committed to delivering on the Bay Shopping Park vision and we have moved another step closer to beginning work.

“For two years we have worked hard behind the scenes to finalise the retailer line up, against the background of a changing and difficult retail environment.”

Opus North said delays included waiting for a licence with Telecoms giant EE (formerly Orange) to expire as they were using the Polo Tower as a mast, the arson attack on the empty Ranch House pub in July 2016 and the need to change planning consent to make way for M&S.

“Agreeing terms with retail occupiers is never straightforward and every location brings specific challenges,” said the spokesman.

David Morris, MP for Morecambe, said he was “delighted” that the Bay Shopping Park had taken “a positive step forward”.

Lancaster City Council agreed a planning variation on the site just before Christmas which will allow a larger unit to accommodate M&S.

But it came with a word of warning as a council planning report said: “In approving this application it would clearly be a risk that a different retailer other than M&S may eventually occupy the unit. It is time for the applicants to begin delivering this vision.”

The only other confirmed tenants so far are hoteliers Premier Inn and restaurant chain Brewers Fayre. A new 60-bedroom hotel and pub-restaurant are due to replace the Ranch House which closed in January 2016.