An ambitious £10m scheme to turn Lancaster’s empty market hall into the city’s biggest retail store is to become reality after councillors this week gave the thumbs-up to the plans.
Members of the city council’s planning committee approved proposals by Allied Lancaster Ltd, who own Marketgate Shopping Centre, to create a 40,000 sq ft two-storey unit for an “anchor tenant”, which will see the part demolition of the former indoor market in Common Garden Street.
Allied hope to announce the tenants of the new development within the next fortnight – amid rumours that budget clothing giant Primark could be involved.
It is hoped that the new store would help to stop loss of trade to other towns and cities in the region such Preston and Kendal.
Lancaster City Council closed the market in 2012 due to spiralling costs, with traders being forced to move to alternative premises.
The scheme will extend the current building into part of Gillison’s Lane and Cornmarket to provide a new, single retail unit with its entrance from Cornmarket. To enable this, Gillison’s Lane will be partially closed at its northern end, except for emergency access.
Pedestrian access will be maintained at the southern end of Gillison’s Lane towards Cornmarket.
The partial closure of Gillison’s Lane results in a need for the provision of a compensatory pedestrian route within the centre.
The route proposed is taken directly from Marketgate in a westerly direction towards Golden Ball Lane and Sir Simon’s Arcade, and will be constructed through part of the unit formerly occupied by Internacionale.
The work will result in the loss of some of the surrounding smaller units/kiosks, although some of the kiosks along Gillison’s Lane will be built into one larger retail kiosk.