Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Frontierland developer approved - gold rush stampede invited!

How Opus North see the new Frontierland development

On Monday Lancaster City Council approved Opus North’s planning application for Frontierland, the 10 acre 'Polo Tower' site, formerly an amusement park, on Morecambe's Marine Drive.

The proposed scheme will deliver around 7,870 sq.m of   retail area plus 3,935 sq.m of retail mezzanine area. It will also include eateries, a family pub / restaurant, a 62 bed hotel, associated car parking, landscaping and public art and you can read more about the proposals by clicking here.

Permission is conditional on referral to the Secretary of State, but it's unlikely to be turned down now. Coun Janice Hanson, Cabinet member with responsibility for Regeneration and Planning laid down a challenge for the developers saying:

“Now the city council’s planning committee has approved the plans it’s down to Opus to be true to their word by implementing the planning permission and attracting top quality retailers.

More than 10 years ago the site gained approval for a ‘Freeport’ style development which was never implemented because the retailers could not be found. We certainly don’t want that to happen again and all the talk is that this development will help to lead the renaissance of Morecambe.

“We need top quality retailers to do that but cannot regulate the quality and identity of particular retailers who will take the first tenancies.

“Opus have convinced the people of Morecambe that the development will attract top quality retailers, but so far we have had no indication from the developer as to the names of any that have expressed a specific interest in the scheme. 

“The city council has supported the developer’s vision.  The ball is now with Opus and it’s down to them to make this development one which will make Morecambe proud and not to saddle us with yet another forlorn hope.” 

So, no pressure there then.

British Land, who hope, eventually, to come up with a viable plan for their site at Lancaster's Canal Corridor (no they do, really), and Morecambe's Arndale Centre (the only shopping centre I ever saw with no loos) both seem more optimistic about the new development's potential - and opposed it - worrying that the competition might be harmful to their own business prospects.

It's time everybody upped their game. We can only hope that the new Frontierland really does push back some boundaries and offers something more interesting than the endless racks of crippling shoes, floppy viscose tops, sausage skin lycra and scratchy undies that continue to infest the high street on a stale and predictable journey from sweatshop to landfill. That's the real developer's challenge.

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