A town councillor has branded the Arndale Centre ‘a disgrace’ for opposing a rival shopping park in Morecambe – as D-Day looms for the £17m scheme.
Evelyn Archer launched a public attack on Arndale bosses as it emerged that a decision on the planned ‘Bay Shopping Park’ at the former Frontierland fairground site is due to be made on November 10.
Mrs Archer and her fellow town councillors also rounded on developers planning a rival retail area in Lancaster.
At a meeting of Morecambe Town Council, Mrs Archer said: “The owners of the Arndale Centre have invested no money in it and I don’t see how they can object when the Arndale is such a disgrace.”
Later, Mrs Archer told The Visitor: “I’m so annoyed. I think this development is good for Morecambe.
“We need something that’s going to bring people into town.”
Morecambe town councillors from all parties showed rare unity as they joined forces to back the Frontierland blueprint, brainchild of Yorkshire developers Opus North.
They also spoke out against British Land, who plan a £75m retail-led overhaul of the Canal Corridor area of Lancaster.
The London-based firm has also slated the Frontierland plans, saying they “could have a serious impact on shopping in Lancaster”.
Coun David Whitaker said British Land had been “heavy handed” and “downplayed the needs of Morecambe”, while Coun Tricia Heath put forward a motion saying the council “does not wish to see this vital development in Morecambe stopped or delayed for the benefit of Lancaster”.
This motion was voted for unanimously with only one councillor, Terrie Metcalfe, abstaining because she works for the Arndale.
Now Lancaster City Council planning committee will take the town council’s views into account when they meet to make a final decision on the scheme next month.
The ‘Bay Shopping Park’ idea has been backed overwhelmingly by the public and by David Morris, MP for Morecambe.
It would include big-name shops, a hotel and family pub to replace the Ranch House. Site owners Morrisons have also applied for permission to demolish the Polo Tower.
In September, the city council asked Opus North to go back to the drawing board and give them more information, including how a new shopping park would affect traffic.
Opus North has since put in revised plans.
A city council spokesman said the planning meeting will happen on November 10, assuming Opus North deal with outstanding issues about the safety of pedestrian links into the site.
If the plans are approved by the city council, a final decision will be made by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, currently Eric Pickles MP.
JAP (Morecambe) LLP, owners of the Arndale, condemned the Frontierland plans earlier this year, claiming they would deal a devastating blow to shopping in the town centre.
A spokesman for JAP said: “The Arndale Centre has been based in the heart of Morecambe town centre, since its opening in 1972, serving the local community on a daily basis. The centre remains committed in its support to Morecambe particularly the town centre. “