Major redevelopment plans for Lancaster and Morecambe 'on track' despite pandemic, council told

Lancaster City Council’s planning application work linked to the Eden Project North and masterplan project for Lancaster’s Canal Quarter are on track despite the pandemic, the city’s cabinet heard at its latest meeting.

By Robbie Macdonald, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Tuesday, 21st September 2021, 11:56 am
The council’s cabinet meeting received updates on a wide range of progress.
The council’s cabinet meeting received updates on a wide range of progress.

But some other schemes, such as the renovation of the former Morecambe Co-op buildings, have been hampered by the pandemic and are at risk of failing to meet agreed time scales, costs or benefits unless action is taken.

The council’s cabinet meeting received updates on a wide range of progress including flood controls, business and industrial zones, new housing, better insulation for existing council homes, tourism, electric vehicles and repairs to historic buildings and structures.

Green councillor Caroline Jackson, who is leader of the council, said the pandemic had created many challenges with finances, staff deployment and project schedules meaning some work had been stalled or delayed. But she added: “A good number of projects listed here are rated green in the colour code, which is good. Explanatory information is shown, which hopefully makes things clearer to understand.”

She noted the Eden Project North update and said planning officers would look at the application in more detail over coming weeks.

Regarding the old Morecambe Co-op building renovation, the update stated: “The impact of the pandemic has put the project behind schedule in terms of external funding, updated costs and lease. Work is needed to update costs and plans to begin bidding in quarter three (of the year).”

Labour councillor Sandra Thornberry said: “How will the setback on this affect the organisations that need the building? Can we offer them any other accommodation?”

Coun Jackson said she would ask council officers about this.

Green councillor Tim Hamilton-Cox said the council had previously agreed its share of funding for the building and other organisations were to finance the remainder. The covid pandemic had apparently hit their ability to raise funds but he added ‘rest assured, the council’s commitment has been made and is still there.’

Projects on schedule included River Lune flood protection works at Caton Road, which include works completed over the winter and current work regarding a pump and attenuation ponds. Also on track is project management and tendering work for the Heysham Gateway regeneration and industry scheme, and housing programmes at Lancaster’s Mainway estate and Mellishaw Park.

In an other housing project, a local authority-linked company called More Homes for the Bay was formally incorporated in the summer, the cabinet head. Legal procedures and documents such as articles of association a shareholder agreement have been prepared and training is under way for groups involved.

More Homes for the Bay is a local authority trading company, sometimes known as a LATC or LATco. These are organisations which can work as independent commercial companies but remain controlled by local councils.

Regarding other building and historic site, the cabinet heard that work in Lancaster’s Dalton Square is on schedule. This includes the repair and restoration of the Queen Victoria monument in the centre of Dalton Square. A condition and structural report has been done and the restoration work can now be put out to tender. At Ryelands Park, extensive roof repairs are due on Ryelands House. A structural engineer has carried out site visits and a drone study.

However, the replacement of the Lancaster City Museum’s boiler, work on Palatine Recreation Ground Pavilion, museum redevelopments and a digital cable programme have been impacted by the pandemic.

Sustainability and green energy projects are generally on schedule, the cabinet was told. This includes de-carbonisation of systems used at Salt Ayre Leisure Centre, the launch of an electric car club, installation of solar panels at White Lund industrial building, subject to a roof survey, and work to improve insulation in council homes. Funding of £175,000 has been gained to improve the insulation in the worst-insulated council homes. Work is due to be finished by the end of this month.