University steps in as D-Day looms for Lancaster Canal Corridor North

The former Mitchells Brewery in Lancaster is part of the Canal Corridor North site earmarked for development.
The former Mitchells Brewery in Lancaster is part of the Canal Corridor North site earmarked for development.
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Lancaster University has backed a much-delayed city centre development ahead of crunch talks about its future.

University officials have met with would-be developers of the Canal Corridor North scheme as Lancaster city councillors prepare to vote on what to do next.

A council report says the university is “keen to support the scheme as its implementation is important to the university’s future”.

At a recent meeting attended by the university, British Land and Lancaster City Council, the developers told the council they are still committed to the scheme.

They said their original plans to transform the area bounded by St Leonardgate, Moor Lane and Lancaster Canal with a development centred around two big-name shops, including one supermarket, “no longer fit with current retail demand”.

Instead they want to create a smaller number of shops and a large food and drink quarter of cafes and restaurants.

In June 2014, the London-based property firm said they were close to revealing specific plans for the Canal Corridor North site, which includes numerous historic and listed buildings such as the former Mitchell’s Brewery, as well as the Dukes and Grand theatres and the Musicians’ Co-Op building used by local musicians for rehearsals and recording.

But the council, or the developer, is now legally entitled to give written notice to terminate the contract because a deadline for a planning application has passed.

The council made the deal in July 2012 when British Land took over from original developers Centros.

Council officers have suggested that British Land should now confirm its commitment to the scheme in writing before the council decides how to proceed.

But the council may instead decide to end its agreement with British Land altogether.

It could look to develop the site for non-retail uses which could include housing.

Or it could regenerate old buildings in the area, safeguarding the site for a future shopping development.

British Land owns almost half the site, including the former Mitchell’s Brewery.

The council also owns almost half the area, mainly public car parks.

It was more than a decade ago when developers were first assigned to transform the area bounded by St Leonardgate, Moor Lane and Lancaster Canal into a mixed-use development with shops.

Businesses in and around the area have been left in limbo due to many delays over the past decade.

Lancaster City councillors will meet to decide what to do next on Wednesday (January 13) at Morecambe Town Hall at 6pm. This meeting is open to the public.

What do you think? Should the council stick with British Land or pull out? How should the site be used?