Gary Rycroft column

Gary Rycroft.
Gary Rycroft.

There’s a great deal afoot in Lancaster at the moment.

The Castle is free of the shackles of the prison it once housed and is poised to be a major national and international tourist attraction, new houses are going up everywhere, the Canal Corridor site between Moor Lane and St Leonardgate is on the brink of development into a retail and cultural quarter, the M6 Link Road is being built and the University of Lancaster is turning 50.

You could say this is The Big Opportunity for Lancaster and indeed that was the title of a seminar which took place at The Storey last week,

organised by Lancaster Vision, a newly formed group sponsored by The Civic Society.

The event brought together an unprecedented array of Lancastrians from elected politicians and civil servants, shop traders and other businesses, heritage, tourism and transport experts, representatives from the Arts and voluntary sectors and local folk who care very much about where they live and work.

There were even a couple of dog collars and also very good sandwiches sponsored by Handelsbanken and CLB Chartered Accountants.

There is no doubt Lancaster will be a very different place in 10 years time, but the question is will it be change for the better?

The seminar drilled down into the question of what defines Lancaster as a place now?

What qualities do we want to retain and what could be improved?

How do we manage the inevitable change to ensure we don’t ruin our city for future generations, but rather bequeath to them a thriving, vibrant place to live and work? It may be a big opportunity, but it’s also a big ask.

There was discussion on the day about whether it’s partnerships or leadership which will deliver results, but it seems to me it’s both.

Lancaster Vision brought together unprecedented partnership working, so there’s an obvious group on hand to take a leadership role.

And then there’s Morecambe to consider because the reality is that economically Lancaster needs Morecambe and vice versa.

We are stronger together and any master plan for Lancaster needs to consider Morecambe as well.