Saturday, 22 September 2012

Penny Street improvement work to begin in 2013

Penny Street, Lancaster
Penny Street photographed in mid-2011 - but
the pavements have not changed since.
Improvements are on their way at last
(Updated 25/9/12): Work to improve Lancaster's Penny Street will begin in 2013, the City Council has revealed.

The City Council first announced that it was working with the County Council on scheduling improvements to the pavements and vital shopping centre area in 2011 (see news story) and since then various developments have been carried out as part of the "Square Routes" project.

So far, these include improvements to Ffrances Passage, working in partnership with St. Nicolas Arcades as part of an agreement over the refurbishment of that shopping precinct; and upgrades to Market Square, removing the fountain.

Gaining funding for the staged Square Routes project has clearly been a drawn out process, involving multiple agencies. The project was initiated thanks to funding from the now defunct North West Development Agency in 2008. Earlier this month funding for the Square Routes project was frozen, further complicating matters.

But both the City Council and local business remain keenly aware that upgrades to the city's "street fabric" are vital to its economic well-being.

The horseshoe - due
to be returned.
Photo: Han Fleet
However, with Christmas looming, an important part of the retail year, the Council has deferred further work on Horseshoe Corner and Cheapside.

"The Cheapside works are now delayed as there is not enough time to complete the works between now and the Christmas embargo," a planning officer told local resident Zephyrine Barbarachild, part of a group set up by another local, Han Fleet, campaigning to ensure the original Horseshoe on "Horseshoe Corner" is returned to its rightful place when work commences.

(Utilities work on Penny Street and Cheapside in 2011 resulted in the temporary removal of the horseshoe and tarmac patching in the area disturbed).

"Works are not permitted in the city centre shopping/pedestrian area from mid November to Christmas," a planning officer explained, "with the intention of starting the works in January until March.

"The works will then continue into April and beyond on Horseshoe Corner during which the Horseshoe will be replaced, subject to release of funding of course."

The horseshoe once installed on Horseshoe Corner is currently being held for safe keeping by Lancaster City Council.

"Horseshoe Corner" is the unofficial name of the intersection between Penny Street, Cheapside and Market Street in Lancaster. It is so named because of the horseshoe that was set into the paving at the centre of this crossroads. (Legend has is that John o' Gaunt's horse shed a shoe here when he left Lancaster castle for the last time. This was once the centre of the mediaeval City of Lancaster).

While it's been a long time coming, the news that refurbishments will begin next year are sure to be welcomed by hard-pressed retailers and residents alike.

Clare Long Summers with the horseshoe, in safe
keeping with Lancaster City Council.
Photo: Zephyrine Barbarachild

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