Lawyers have say on £75m shopping plans

Councillor Janice Hanson.
Councillor Janice Hanson.

Legal eagles have been called in over the long-delayed Canal Corridor North shopping scheme.

Lancaster City Council has sought legal advice on what might happen if they pull out of a deal with developers.

City councillors will meet for crunch talks on the issue at Morecambe Town Hall next Tuesday at 6pm.

The legal advice by international law firm Eversheds is confidential and will be discussed behind closed doors.

The meeting will come two weeks after demands for a full inquest into the council’s 
involvement in the much-stalled £75m scheme were thrown out by councillors.

The Green party wanted the council to review its entire backing for the plan even if it meant pulling out altogether. Coun Tim Hamilton-Cox and colleagues have been pushing for the development to be housing-led.

But Coun Janice Hanson, deputy council leader, said: “While we all want to see progress as soon as possible, we should take account of what the council officers who are in contact with British Land are advising us - and that is that it would not make sense to pull the plug on the development agreement.

“They have promised that advice will be presented to cabinet soon and it is surely sensible to wait until then before considering how this development can best be taken forward.”

Developers Centros were first assigned 10 years ago to transform the area bounded by St Leonardgate, Moor Lane and Edward Street into a mixed-use development with shops.

British Land took over from Centros in July 2012 and in June 2014, said they were close to revealing their plans for the site.

But nothing has been heard publicly from the London-based company about their plans since summer 2014, when it revealed objections to the planned Bay Shopping Park scheme in Morecambe.

The Canal Corridor North site includes numerous historic and listed buildings such as the former Mitchell’s Brewery site, as well as the Dukes and Grand theatres and the Musicians’ Co-Op building used by local musicians for rehearsals and recording.

The council, or the developer, is now entitled to give written notice to terminate the contract because no planning application came in by November 21 last year.

Neither has done so, to date.

British Land had not commented as we went to press.