Huge 81% say no to central prom vision

Tom Bloxham
Tom Bloxham
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A long-standing vision for Morecambe’s central promenade area is no longer viable, say city council planners.

Urban Splash’s plans to revamp the central seafront near the Midland with a modern development of high-rise luxury flats, car parking, a new hotel, shops, cafes, public spaces and a leisure attraction have been given the thumbs down ahead of a crunch meeting.

The Manchester developers, who restored and reopened the Midland hotel in 2008, want to build on the promenade in five phases over an eight-year period, finishing in 2022.

But a new 52-page Lancaster City Council planning report says the council “cannot guarantee deliverability of the scheme in full”.

The report reveals that 81 per cent of people who contacted the council were against the scheme.

It quotes English Lakes Hotels, operators of the Midland, who said the plans were “out-of-proportion” to the hotel and building was “likely to take many years causing disruption”. Morecambe Town Council and the Friends of the Winter Gardens have also objected to the project.

The report concludes that car parking at the site, and potential queues along the promenade, could cause extra problems for traffic, cyclists and pedestrians.

If a planning committee of councillors agree with the findings, Urban Splash would either have to go back to the drawing board for the third time, or scrap the scheme altogether.

The award-winning firm first put in a planning application for the site in 2007.

In 2010, the council rejected original plans, calling the mooted buildings “excessive, dominating and overbearing”. New plans were drawn up, then revised in 2012.

“Urban Splash has worked for a decade in Morecambe, saving and reopening the Midland hotel and has invested £12m,” said a spokesperson for the company, quoted in the report.

“This has led to major improvements but there is still much to do.

“We’re hopeful that Morecambe does want to see regeneration of this site and if consent is granted we would want an addition to the Midland to form the first phase.

“At this time we will develop and present the detail of the buildings and landscaping to the council, local stakeholders and community.”

A final decision will be made at a planning meeting at Lancaster Town Hall on February 4. It starts at 10.30am. All welcome.