SAVE Announces Alternative Scheme for Lancaster's Canal Corridor
In light of news that the developer behind one of England’s most controversial town centre redevelopment schemes has pulled out of a forthcoming Public Inquiry, SAVE Britain’s Heritage has revealed its own blueprint for the regeneration of the historic ‘Canal Corridor’ area of Lancaster.
The current scheme, by retail developer Centros, and backed by Lancaster City Council, hit the headlines when it became the first application in the north west of England to be called-in for Public Inquiry since 2001. Described by SAVE as ‘astonishingly destructive’ and heavily criticised by English Heritage and other bodies, the proposals involve the demolition of over 30 buildings, 18 of them within conservation areas, and the obliteration of a medieval street pattern.In a bizarre turn of events Centros has now backed out of the Public Inquiry, leaving Lancaster City Council to fight it alone. SAVE’s Secretary William Palin described the situation as ‘chaotic and embarrassing. As I understand it there is no precedent for the applicant and developer failing to attend an Inquiry of this kind. The council will now be faced with a huge legal bill for what will in all likelihood be an open and shut case, with the application refused.’
With the Centros application in apparent disarray, SAVE has commissioned acclaimed conservation architect Richard Griffiths to produce an alternative vision for the 8 hectare site. The drawings show how the existing network of streets and courtyards with their characterful mix of 18th and 19th century sandstone buildings could be retained and transformed to produce a vibrant and intimate area of shops, restaurants, arts uses, workspace and housing, with the possibility of a new area of retail and housing to the north of the site.
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William Palin, SAVE’s Secretary says ‘In the current financial climate there is little appetite for large, brash, retail schemes and Centros’s reluctance to push the scheme forward has confirmed this. If the council is serious about long-term regeneration then it should be advocating a conservation-led scheme which will create a real place and dovetail with the rest of this beautiful, historic city. The first stage in achieving this is to produce a masterplan that can be implemented in phases as funding becomes available. If the council has real aspirations for this part of the city it should be looking at examples such as Covent Garden or those guided by Richard Griffiths at Oxford Castle and King’s Cross, London. Now is the perfect time for Lancaster City Council to engage with other architects and developers and produce a new vision to unlock the wonderful potential of this rolex replica site.’
Richard Griffiths says ‘The Lancaster Canal Corridor is an area of great charm, a charm that is veiled because of the current derelict condition of the site. We believe it can be transformed through conservation-led regeneration as a focus for development of the site, contributing to the wider regeneration of Lancaster as a whole. The Canal Corridor has the potential to become a creative hub for the town with a rich variety of uses.’
The SAVE scheme has been endorsed by local group IT’S OUR CITY which has been a fierce opponent of the Centros plans. Cal Giles, the group’s Co-ordinator says ‘IoC fully supports the conservation-led alternative presented here by SAVE and Richard Griffiths’.
View our E-Report with photographs of the buildings threatened by the Centros Scheme and the background to the campaign:
See our previous articles relating to the Lancaster Campaign:
Documents (click to read/download)
- Save's Statement on Lancaster Scheme - September 2008
- Press Release: SAVE slams Lancaster 'chaos' & reveals alternative scheme
- Richard Griffiths Architects - Design Statement
- Ptolemy Dean writes about Lancaster in Country Life November 2008
- Ptolemy Dean gives his opinion on the regeneration of Lancaster - Country Life February 2009