City v town in store wars

The Arndale Centre in Morecambe.

The Arndale Centre in Morecambe.

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Alongside Arndale, the powerful British Land Company (BLC), development partners with Lancaster City Council (LCC) for the Canal Corridor North (CCN) complex, have also objected to Opus North’s plans.

BLC ‘urge’ LCC to restrict the sale of “...fashion, health and beauty, sports goods and goods generally sold in department stores” as this would attract retailers “...who would otherwise go into the CCN scheme in Lancaster”. BLC want Morecambe’s retail offer limited to “...bulky goods including electrical, DIY, furniture and floor coverings”. BLC warn LCC that the Morecambe development in its current form will “undermine the deliverability of the CCN site”.

LCC have been pressured further by consultants White, Young and Green (WYG) who advise LCC on its retail strategy. Concerning retail development WYG say “....a careful balance between Lancaster city centre and Morecambe town centre will need to be considered to ensure that the Canal Corridor North site is delivered first”.

When considering the Urban Splash proposals all this seems rather odd. WYG advised LCC that its retail development posed no threat to the CCN site, whilst amongst the online documents associated with the Urban Splash proposals there appear to be no formal objections by Arndale or BLC.

Should LCC buckle and Morecambe misses out yet again, there may be grounds for appeal. The National Policy Planning Framework directs authorities to “promote competitive town centres that provide customer choice and a diverse retail offer and that needs for retail and other main town centre uses should not be compromised by limited site availability”.

In cases where site availability in town centres like Morecambe is restricted, it directs authorities to “allocate appropriate edge of centre sites for main town centre uses”. Support Opus North at www.lancaster.gov.uk/planning/. Enter reference 14/00388/FUL when searching for its application and make a comment.

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