Council cautious on Marks and Spencer return to Morecambe

Marks and Spencer's return to Morecambe has moved one step closer but with a word of warning from the council.

Monday, 5th December 2016, 3:19 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 12:41 pm
Developer Opus North's CGI image of what is proposed for the Frontierland site.

Developers who want to transform the former Frontierland into a brand new retail complex have asked Lancaster City Council to allow an M&S Foodhall on the site.

While welcoming a Marks and Spencer return to Morecambe, the council has once again told developers Opus North and Morrisons it is high time they started work on the new Bay Shopping Park.

Developers have applied for a ‘planning variation’ to allow Marks and Spencer to operate from the former Wild West fairground site, as well as a larger glazed entrance, a new external plant room and internal layout to suit an M&S Foodhall.

Council planners recommend this should be approved but are cautious because the application is not in Marks and Spencer’s name.

A council report said: “In approving this application it would clearly be a risk that a different retailer other than M&S may eventually occupy the unit.

“Officers remain hopeful that even without this legal mechanism that a high quality retailer will still occupy this unit and bring lasting regeneration to Morecambe.

“It is time for the applicants to begin delivering this vision.”

A final decision on the varied plans will now be made by councillors at a meeting on December 12.

An Opus North spokesman said: “We decided to submit the application in the interests of continuity. It is not unusual or significant that Opus North is the applicant, rather than the proposed occupier”.

The Visitor revealed in August that Marks and Spencer were interested in opening a shop on the new Bay Shopping Park.

M&S had a town centre outlet on the corner of Euston Road and Victoria Street until the chain pulled out of the resort in the 1980s – which many saw as symbolic of the decline of the town as a shopping destination.

Marks and Spencer Foodhalls sell mainly M&S branded food and drink, as well as a limited range of non-food goods. Many also have a cafe.

Residents have been frustrated by delays at the former Frontierland site, where work was originally due to start in autumn 2015 and original planning permission was given in 2014.

The planned Bay Shopping Park is to include shops, a Brewers Fayre restaurant and 60-bedroom Premier Inn hotel to replace the Ranch House.