A full review of plans to regenerate a prime piece of land in central Lancaster is under way.
Lancaster City Council cabinet agreed to hold a thorough investigation into options for the Canal Corridor North site.
The council will also appoint a project officer to oversee the review.
The Canal Corridor North site covers land between Lancaster canal and the city’s one-way system bordered by St Leonardgate and Moor Lane, and includes the former Mitchell’s Brewery site, the Dukes and Grand Theatres.
Developers British Land vowed to revamp the area with a £75m scheme including new large shops, cafés and restaurants, create jobs, improve public space and bring historic buildings back into active use.
But the London company has not put any firm plans on the table since taking over the scheme from Centros in 2012.
The decision to hold the investigation was made at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
Councillors were also given confidential legal advice from international law firm Eversheds on what might happen if the council pulls out of a deal with British Land.
Afterwards Coun Janice Hanson, deputy council leader, said: “This is a key site in our district with huge regeneration potential. That is why we have agreed to review the options for its future development and also to appoint an existing member of staff as a dedicated project officer in the short term. We all want to see progress made as soon as possible to ensure we see a viable and sustainable regeneration of the site in the future.”
Council officers will now look into all options for the site and draw up a report for all city councillors to discuss at December’s meeting of full council.
One of the options is expected to be withdrawing from the agreement with British Land.
Tim Hamilton-Cox, the Green councillor who initially proposed a full review, said: “I’m very pleased that we’re making progress. I’ve just got a warm feeling that we are moving forward. Hopefully we will end up with a housing-led development.”
Coun Hamilton-Cox said the council also needed to look at how a new ‘park and ride’ at Junction 34 will affect city council-run car parks in the Canal Corridor North area when the Heysham to M6 link road opens. “It will affect our revenues, but if we put housing on there I don’t think it will have that much of an impact.”
A spokesman for British Land said: “British Land’s development team is reviewing the scheme and consulting with the city council.”