The Secretary of State has refused a controversial application by developer Centros for the redevelopment of the ‘canal corridor’ area in the centre of Lancaster. The decision comes after a Public Inquiry earlier this year at which Centros declined to appear, leaving Lancaster City Council to defend this scheme alone.
The application sought the demolition of 30 historic buildings across the 8-hectare site to make way for a new shopping centre, connected to the city centre via a pedestrian bridge. As well as flattening 18 buildings within 2 conservation areas, the scheme would have erased the existing historic street pattern.
SAVE has been battling the Centros application since it was first submitted last year. In June SAVE appeared alongside English Heritage and local group It’s our City at a Public Inquiry held to determine the scheme. SAVE argued from the outset that the scheme was completely wrong for this sensitive and finely textured site, and that it could not be justified in light of national policy guidance. The Secretary of State has now agreed, refusing the application outright - effectively sending the applicant and Lancaster City Council back to the drawing board.
William Palin, Secretary of SAVE, described the Secretary of State’s decision as ‘the nail in the coffin for this ill-conceived and outdated scheme. The elected councillors of Lancaster must now ask themselves how they were led into supporting this doomed application, which has cost the local taxpayers thousands and has set the regeneration of this site back at least two years.’
Marcus Binney, SAVE’s President said ‘Local opposition to this scheme has been exceptionally high and SAVE is delighted to have played a key role in successfully opposing these damaging development proposals. With architect Richard Griffiths we have drawn up an alternative ‘blueprint’ for the site which will preserve the character of the Canal Quarter and bring the historic buildings alive with a mixture of uses. We appeal to the City Council to support a conservation-led scheme for regeneration. This kind of scheme can be phased and would be flexible to changing market conditions. It would also result in the genuine rejuvenation of this historic site, rather than a bland ‘clone’ development dominated by big retail chains.’
‘This is a battle not just for Lancaster but historic centres all over Britain which are threatened by a backwards move to 1960s shopping precincts which kill off local shops and deny local people the use of real historic streets.’
‘We remain resolutely opposed to the attempt to demolish Mitchell's Brewery and urge the Council to complete the review of the conservation area boundaries which at present do not properly protect the site.’
SAVE was represented at the Inquiry by Andrew Deakin of 39 Essex Street, London WC2R 3AT. www.39essex.com
For further information and images contact:
William Palin (Secretary), SAVE Britain's Heritage. Email
For more details of the Richard Griffiths alternative scheme click here