May date for new Morecambe shopping park

Developer Opus North's CGI image of what is proposed for the Frontierland site.
Developer Opus North's CGI image of what is proposed for the Frontierland site.

A start date has been pencilled in for Morecambe’s new £17m shopping park.

Developers Opus North expect to finally start work on the Bay Shopping Park in May.

A spokesman said May was looking likely as long as there were no last-minute hitches with appointing a builder and finalising names of retailers.

Work on the former Frontierland site was originally due to start last September but was delayed.

In February, Yorkshire developers Opus North announced it had finished a tendering process and would appoint a building firm to start work on the former Frontierland fairground site shortly.

But a spokesman said while there “has been movement with retailers behind the scenes” he was unable to give any names.

The only confirmed tenants so far are Premier Inn and Brewers Fayre.

The new 60-bedroom hotel and pub-restaurant will replace the Ranch House pub which closed in January.

Surveyors have been inside the former Ranch to prepare for its demolition, possibly in May.

The Polo Tower will also be demolished once a contractor is appointed.

Last July, Opus North confirmed they had been in talks with B&M Bargains and TK Maxx.

The firm, in partnership with site owners Morrisons, had aimed to start work in autumn 2015.

But in September last year, they said “practical hurdles” had slowed down talks with retailers.

Telecoms giant EE (formerly Orange) were also using the 168ft Polo tube as a mast but the licence was due to expire at the end of January 2016.

Planning permission was granted for the new shopping park, to include shops, restaurants and more than 300 car parking spaces, in November 2014.

Meanwhile the new manager of Lancaster and District Chamber of Commerce has hailed the Bay Shopping Park as part of a big year of investment in Morecambe.

John O’Neill praised a number of current projects in the town after taking over the role.

Mr O’Neill, 52, who lives in Bare, was born in London and brought up in Sydney, Australia, where he worked for car manufacturers Daimler and Nissan. He has also run successful businesses in the travel and tourism industry and kitchen design and supply.

“There’s a lot going on in Morecambe in terms of redevelopment,” he said.

“There’s the old Palladium (Oyster) building, The Visitor building and the Connecting Eric project.

“There’s been the £600,000 investment into Victoria Street, the Portas project, New River within the Arndale and then the Opus North (Bay Shopping Park) project.”

Mr O’Neill also praised the positive impact of the link road, due to open in the autumn.

“It’s not just about the links to the ports, although this is important, but also about the benefits it will bring to Lancaster and Morecambe. I’m seeing a lot of money being spent in the area. The link road, by chance, is the first major piece of infrastructure built as part of the Northern Powerhouse. Rents and prices on White Lund have gone up 25 per cent since the start of the build and the project brings increased job opportunities, homes, and more interest in general to the area.”