Saturday, 7 July 2012

Deadline nears for comment on Central Promenade plans

One of the original designs proposed for the Central Promenade by Urban Splash
Objectors argue the new buildings are too high.
(Updated 8/7/12, added Councillor Hansons's comments)

Morecambe Town Council will be considering the revised planning application submitted by Urban Splash for the Central Promenade to Lancaster City Council at its meeting on Thursday 19th July - and welcomes the public's views on the proposals.

The Town Council is a statutory consultee and as this is such an important planning application in terms of the future of Morecambe, the Town Council is interested to hear the public’s views on the application prior to the meeting. This would allow Town Councillors to make an informed decision when considering the comments they may wish to make to the Local Planning Authority on behalf of the residents of the town.

Manchester based developer Urban Splash, which renovated the town's landmark Midland Hotel, has spent several years working on plans for the 7.5 hectare site, and its 2010 proposal included proposals for seven new buildings containing a visitor attraction, more than 600 apartments, 20 beach houses and 120,000 square feet of retail and commercial space, as well as new public spaces. But the plans horrified many locals, and the Town Council clearly stated its objection to the application.

The firm previously submitted plans for the area in 2007 and 2010 but both were rejected following local opposition.


Despite changes to the initial plans for the Central Promenade's development, Morecambe Council felt them "insignificant" and objected to the proposals on the grounds that they were in substantial contravention of Planning Guidance, Planning Policy and Regional Development strategies.


"The applicant has not satisfied the conditions of DP1 2 Regional Planning Guidance," the Council argued. "In addition, the application is not in keeping with the principles of development in a conservation area.

"The proposed development would severely reduce the footprint for leisure activity and the number of dwellings provided would bring no measurable improvement to the local economy.

"Morecambe Town Council deplore the lack of consultation between Urban Splash, Lancaster City Council and local people.”

As this is an amended application the Town Council has again been asked for its views as statutory consultee. The application now submitted proposes:

“Outline application for the redevelopment of Morecambe central promenade including retail, leisure, restaurants, cafes, commercial and crèche use (A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, B1, D1, D2) at ground floor level with residential and hotel accommodation (C1, C3) above. Extensive public realm works include a new setting for the midland hotel, seaside square, a boardwalk and market square.”

Urban Splash, who have threatened to invest elsewhere if there are further objections, says the plans that will be considered this month have been revised to include reductions to the height of accommodation blocks and a better layout.

The company argues the scheme would "revitalise" the town and play a key part in its much-needed regeneration.

But local councillor Evelyn Archer argues the proposed buildings are still too high and will dwarf the Midland Hotel.

"That's an iconic building," she told the BBC this week, and has set up a stall in the Arndale Centre where the public can view the plans every day until 23rd July - the deadline for the submission of comments on the proposals to the council.

"This is the most important planning application which will influence the town for many years to come, I just want people to be informed," she said.

Speaking for Lancaster City Council, Coun Janice Hanson, who is Cabinet member with responsibility for regeneration and planning, commented:  "The regeneration of Morecambe is a key priority for the city council but if we are to achieve this aim we need private companies to come in and invest.

“Only by attracting and working with major companies can we secure the investment that we so badly need and secure the best possible future for the town and its residents and businesses.

“That’s not to say we are willing to accept development in any form," she added, "and these plans will be carefully scrutinised to ensure that they are acceptable and we welcome comments from local people.

“But the fact that a company such as Urban Splash is still wanting to come in and invest in Morecambe is a welcome sign and one which we should all support.  The submission of these plans is a welcome step forward and moves us closer to our goal of securing the investment we need to put Morecambe back on the map.”

The planning applications will be considered in due course by the council's Planning and Highways Regulatory Committee when feedback from key consultees and retail consultants has been received. The views of local people will also be taken into consideration before a decision is made.

• Full details of the application may be viewed on the Lancaster City Council website at: http://planning.lancaster.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=JU0P4AIZ03800

Persons who wish to forward comments on the amended outline application by  Urban Splash to the Town Council prior to it considering the matter should either email them to David Croxall, Town Clerk at clerk@morecambe.gov.uk or in writing to: David Croxall,  Town Clerk, Morecambe Town Council, Town Hall, Morecambe LA4 5AF

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