We’ll replace Tesco but town doesn’t need more shops, says Arndale boss

The library and steps area at the back of the Arndale Centre will be revamped as part of a major redesign.
The library and steps area at the back of the Arndale Centre will be revamped as part of a major redesign.
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The new owners of the Arndale will announce a replacement for Tesco within a couple of weeks.

NewRiver Retail has also promised new public toilets as part of an ambitious redesign of Morecambe’s main shopping centre.

I’ve told the Hemingway team to be bold and brave. I would rather they were going too wacky and we have to pull them back. We’re looking for Morecambe to be quite pioneering

Paul Wright, director of NewRiver

Paul Wright, director of NewRiver, also said that attracting new retailers to the Arndale was not a top priority because “we don’t think the town needs more shops”.

Mr Wright revealed some of the firm’s plans for the Arndale while visiting the Vintage-by-the-Sea festival.

The London-based company is working alongside Hemingway Design, run by Morecambe-born designer Wayne Hemingway, to transform the look of the Arndale both inside and out.

Mr Wright said: “We’re looking to do in Morecambe something we as a company have never done before.

“We want to create a centre that’s a building that people want to come into regardless of what’s in there in terms of shops.

“The Frontierland site will be putting in more shops but we don’t think the town needs more shops.

“Tesco is a gap that needs filling and there will be news on that in the next couple of weeks.

“But in general we want to get more people coming to the Arndale without putting in more shops.”

NewRiver Retail, the UK’s third largest owner of shopping centres, bought the Arndale in a £14m deal in late 2014.

The centre has been falling into decline and suffered a major blow in April when Tesco supermarket closed its doors.

“We want to go into places in lesser quality areas and identify what used to make these places great,” said Mr Wright.

“The M6 link road was key for us too. Suddenly people who work in Lancaster have a choice of whether to live in the city or by the seaside.”

Jack Hemingway, son of Wayne, is the lead designer on the project.

“It’s the first shopping centre we’ve done,” he said.

“The main reason we’re involved in Morecambe is because it means something to us. The improvements we’re planning to the facades and internal concourse spaces of the Arndale will in the long run encourage new businesses into the vicinity. But it will also encourage existing retailers to up their game.”

Jack said the design team intends to transform the steps and pedestrian spaces near Morecambe library into a place where “people will want to linger longer”.

“We also want to design something special for the middle of the ‘mall’,” he said.

“And we want artists to come in to work in the redundant spaces; creative people will be doing interesting things in the Arndale.”

Mr Wright said: “I’ve told the Hemingway team to be bold and brave. I would rather they were going too wacky and we have to pull them back. We’re looking for Morecambe to be quite pioneering.”

The company has also held meetings with Lancaster and Morecambe College and wants to form a partnership where students can work on projects inside the centre.

NewRiver and the Hemingway team launched the new Arndale brand at the vintage festival on Saturday.

This includes a new name for the centre – ‘Arndale, Morecambe Bay’ – a new logo and branding material with a seaside theme.

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