Lancaster City Council’s planning committee has refused plans by Urban Splash for Morecambe’s Central Promenade area.
The plans were rejected due to doubts over whether Urban Splash could deliver the scheme given the current state of the economy, and the impact that an unfinished scheme could have upon the setting of the Midland Hotel, the conservation area and the Winter Gardens.
While the committee welcomed Urban Splash’s contribution to the continuing regeneration of the town, through the regeneration of the Midland Hotel, it was of the opinion that the scheme was no longer viable.
The committee heard that the development would be a “giant leap of faith” in the current climate.
While it had the potential to create the conditions for private investment that would assist with tackling the key problems that are holding back Morecambe’s regeneration, the gaps between the development’s phases were lengthy, and the applicant could not guarantee the timing of the development, or the end-uses that would occupy space within it.
This meant major uncertainty over the delivery of the scheme and the desire to include leisure uses and quality open spaces as part of the redevelopment.
As a result the committee refused the application.
Councillor Keith Budden, chairman of Lancaster City Council’s planning committee, said: “Through the regeneration of the Midland Hotel Urban Splash have done an awful lot of good for Morecambe and there’s no doubt that we are better placed now to fulfil our ambitions for the town than 10 years ago.
“But a lot has changed in the period since the plans were first submitted and unless we can be certain that the development is viable the committee decided it could not be granted in its current form.
“We would be doing a disservice to the people of Morecambe if we were to agree a scheme which could lay unfinished and it is a chance we could not take.”
Urban Splash chairman Tom Bloxham, has said the firm will invest in other towns if residents continue to oppose the plans.