City centre is on the road to recovery

Primark development.
Primark development.

Lancaster city council’s chief executive has said the town has had “tough times” but the centre has stood up to the recession and is on the road to recovery.

The city centre has seen many premises close over the past year.

Chief Exectutive Mark Cullinan 2

Chief Exectutive Mark Cullinan 2

Mr Mark Cullinan said: “The city centre has stood up to the recession reasonably well and vacant premises have generally been replaced with new uses in the core area.”

The introduction of a new Primark store, which is expected to open in Easter next year, has resulted in a number of changes over recent months.

Some stores have opened to take advantage of the redevelopment at the old market hall in Marketgate shopping centre whilst others have closed as a result.

Blue Inc vacated its premises on January 4 to accommodate a new walkway which will connect Sir Simon’s Arcade to Primark.

The city centre plinth

The city centre plinth

On the same day Rocky Street, on Cheapside, which sold milkshakes, pancakes, waffles and sundaes also closed.

In September United Utilities began sewer work across Lancaster’s one-way system.

Drivers struggled to cope with the road closures as the £18million sewer repairs continued for several months.

Lile Tool Shop, on North Road, closed on November 29 after they claimed loss of business due to the water company’s work.

The city centre also welcomed several new shops including Fruits of the Lune on King Street, which opened in October.

Mr Cullinan said: “After very tough times, the general thinking about the future of the high street is that historic centres offering a balance between specialist independent shops and nationals together with good quality food and drink offerings and attractions to visit are best placed to recover in the near future.”

Market Square received a new centrepiece in August which divided opinion.

The £120k plinth was placed in the square and played host to many musical events as part of the city council’s Square Routes project. Mr Cullinan said: “The city and county council’s investment in the Square Routes project has been a boost for the public realm with the installation of the new plinth being particularly well received.

“With a positive partnership between the local councils and the BID, Lancaster is well placed to take advantage of those conditions.”

To help bring shoppers back to the city Lancaster Business Improvement District negotiated a deal with the city council to provide free parking after 3pm in December.

The move, which looked at providing free parking up until Christmas Day, came after businesses slowly recovered following United Utilities work.

Lancaster City Council is confident the city centre will grow further for the future.