£100m plan to transform city centre

DEVELOPER Centros this week unveiled new £100m plans for a scheme which would transform the canal corridor area of Lancaster.

Centros has been given the chance to revisit plans for the site after members of Lancaster City Council’s cabinet agreed on Tuesday to extend the period of its development agreement with Centros by five years.

The developer previously had a controversial scheme rejected by the Secretary of State following a public inquiry in 2009. The proposals see the Centros scrapping unpopular plans for a bridge linking St Nicholas Arcades with Stonewell and introducing a supermarket beneath a car park, a new restaurant quarter and a redeveloped canalside area.

Centros has worked in consultation with both the city council and English Heritage to produce its new plans, which it believes would enhance Lancaster’s shops portfolio with a new department store and a range of other shops, cafés and restaurants.

Centros director David Lewis said: “Since the public inquiry in 2009, we have revisited our previous proposals whilst liaising with English Heritage to address its concerns.

“This week’s decision by the council’s cabinet represents a key milestone in the delivery of this major regeneration in the city centre.

“These revised proposals build on many of the positive components of the last scheme that were endorsed by the Secretary of State – while creatively integrating more of the existing buildings, including the now listed brewery, bringing them back into vibrant use.

“Once legal formalities are concluded, we will be in a position to prepare a new planning application.

“In the meantime, we intend to continue our engagement with both statutory consultees and local stakeholders, as well as the public.”

Significant changes to the scheme include:

* Removal of the proposed pedestrian bridge over Stonewell

* Upgrading of the public realm on lower Church Street, Stonewell and lower St Leonard Gate, including a much-improved pedestrian crossing

* Retention and re-use of the listed malthouse building and adjoining brewery tower and courtyard buildings

* Retention of parts of the Joseph Storey/Heron Works

* Part retention of Swan Court

* A 20 per cent reduction in the overall commercial floorspace to 34,500 sq m

The revised scheme comprises:

* An open pedestrian shopping street leading from Stonewell to a new public square, with multiple pedestrian links to and from Moor Lane, the canal towpath and St Leonardgate

* A new department store, a variety store and around 30 other new shops including a supermarket

* New cafés and restaurants

* A broad surface-level Toucan crossing at Stonewell and landscape enhancement of lower Church Street, including a shared surface with pedestrian priority

* New public squares in the centre of the scheme – also on St Leonard Gate, on Moor Lane, St Anne’s Place, Stonewell and adjacent to the canal/Heron Works

* A new public park leading up from Alfred Street to the Lancaster Canal

* Re-housing of the much-admired Musicians’ Co-operative

* Creation of a restaurant quarter adjacent to the Lancaster Canal – utilising refurbished Joseph Storey buildings and the courtyard

* An enhanced canalside environment

* Re-engineering of the Parliament Street/Caton Road highways network to provide much-improved road access for the city – as before

* 800 car parking spaces including part undercroft below the new retail street – providing direct pedestrian access to Stonewell, the historic city centre and both theatres

* New residential accommodation, including a terrace of cottages on Alfred Street

At the end of last year, Centros agreed terms with Mitchell’s of Lancaster to acquire its interests in the development site.

Centros hope to submit a new planning application at the end of this year.

If approved, the development could be completed by late 2016 or early 2017.

Mr Lewis added: “A regeneration of this scale will prove to be a major catalyst that will stimulate further investment in the city centre.

“It will provide hundreds of construction jobs in the short term and generate more than 750 retail and leisure jobs in the long term.

“It will also provide a boost for the attractions of the university, for the plans for the castle and help the city to fulfil its ambitions for increased tourism.”