Urban Splash’s vision refused

Promenade views re proposed Urban Splash development
Promenade views re proposed Urban Splash development

Ambitious proposals to transform Morecambe’s prom have been refused.

Lancaster City Council’s planning committee voted 12 to 1 to ditch Urban Splash’s vision for a sweeping overhaul of land next to the Midland Hotel.

After eight years working on the plans, it is now unclear if the award-winning Manchester design company will go back to the drawing board or abandon the scheme, which has been on the table for eight years.

Urban Splash wanted to build around 400 luxury flats, beach houses, parking spaces, new modern pedestrian areas, a second hotel, cafes and shops and a major tourist attraction, starting a phased programme of work in 2014 to finish in 2022.

But councillors gave the thumbs down because they believed the development was “no longer viable”.

Coun Keith Budden, committee chairman, said: “Through the regeneration of the Midland, Urban Splash have done an awful lot of good for Morecambe and there’s no doubt that we are better placed now to fulfil our ambitions for the town than 10 years ago.

“But a lot has changed in the period since the plans were first submitted.

“We would be doing a disservice to the people of Morecambe if we were to agree a scheme which could lay unfinished and it is a chance we could not take.”

Councillors agreed the swish development could attract private investment to Morecambe and help tackle social and economic problems.

But they were worried about the length of time it would take to build, which could turn the promenade into a building site for many years.

They also felt Urban Splash could not guarantee how the finished buildings could be used.

The scheme was first mooted in 2005 when Urban Splash launched an international search for a designer.

Initial plans were put on the table in 2007 but redrawn twice by the regeneration firm after a public outcry.

Opposers disliked the height and number of the proposed buildings, especially the centrepiece of the development – multiple ‘finger blocks’ of high-rise apartments splaying out eastwards from the Midland.

Urban Splash had made no comment as The Visitor went to press.

The firm carried out am £11m renovation of the Midland, which had been previously derelict before reopening in 2008.