Saturday, 1 October 2011

Lancaster city revamp work gets green light

Design for a new look Market Square

Lancaster City Council has awarded Thomas Armstrong Construction Ltd the tender to begin work on the first Lancaster Square Routes project, part of a much larger development scheme to improve Lancaster town centre, starting with work in Market Square.

Work on the Square Routes project began back in 2008, when the Northwest Regional Development Agency awarded money to the council to prepare detailed design proposals to upgrade a number of spaces within the city centre. Lancashire County Council also awarded money to support the involvement of an artist throughout the project.

As we previously reported in July, the council then sought comments from all users of these spaces, including residents, visitors and traders to help analyze and evaluate the current issues and potential opportunities.

The Council then commissioned a design team, led by consultants Gillespies, to produce a series of detailed design visions for how key spaces and routes along the city centre's east-west axis could be transformed, which was then published for public consultation.

The overall aim is to better connect the retail and commercial heart with the more cultural offerings towards the Castle and quay, and includes detailed designs for Market Square, Sun Square and Horseshoe Corner amongst others."

Maryport-based Thomas Armstrong Construction will work on the initial phase of the revamp, which will see improvements to Market Square and Ffrances Passage.

"By investing in quality public realm, we're seeking to improve activity and therefore raise the social and economic performance of the city," the Council's Regeneration Officer Kate Smith told us earlier this year. "These visions constitute a programme of work that is variously deliverable over time as opportunities and funding permits.

"Each location proposed for improvement makes for a physical project that in turn can be disaggregated into work packages."

By breaking up the program, the Council can implement according to the availability of funding, the primary constraint on delivery."

Work is set to begin in Market Square this autumn, completing before the Christmas period commences, and then undertaking works along Ffrances Passage early in the new year, edging into Gage Street if funding permits. Both of these will include surfacing and lighting improvements.

This is good news for Lancaster's traders, especially with work proceeding apace already on the revamp of St. Nicholas Arcades (see news story).

Earlier this month, one hurdle - the issue of trees that might be lost in Market Square - was resolved by the Council's Cabinet, who agreed to replanting any removed trees once work was completed.

• See also: Council gets set for "Square Routes" work to improve City Centre

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