Councillor hits out over Frontierland “letdown”

The former Frontierland on Marine Road West in Morecambe.
The former Frontierland on Marine Road West in Morecambe.

It is almost three years since a £17m shopping park got the go-ahead on the former Frontierland site and still Morecambe waits for building work to start.

Now a leading Morecambe councillor has torn into the landowner and would-be developers of the promised ‘Bay Shopping Park’ saying they are “letting the town down badly”.

Councillor Darren Clifford.

Councillor Darren Clifford.

Coun Darren Clifford called on the public to write to Morrisons and Opus North to pressure them because there is “little councils can do”.

Coun Clifford also said he was so upset with the delays he no longer shops in Morrisons.

Planning permission was given for a new retail park at the former fairground in November 2014.

The site has been vacant since Frontierland closed in 2000.

The Ranch House pub was demolished in 2016 and the Polo Tower was knocked down earlier this year.

A 60-bedroom Premier Inn hotel and pub-restaurant was due to replace the Ranch House until Premier Inn pulled out of talks.

Yorkshire-based Opus North has regularly stated they are still committed to the project and planning permission has been granted for a Marks and Spencer food hall on the site.

But still no building work has begun, when ‘autumn 2015’ was originally given as the start date.

“I haven’t had any contact (from Morrisons or Opus North) in recent months which is annoying,” said Coun Clifford, who is chairman of Morecambe Town Council and cabinet member for tourism on Lancaster City Council.

“Other than the removal of the Polo Tower and some fencing around the site which was forced on them by the council, they’ve pretty much done nothing.

“It’s a blight on the place. I think frankly they are letting the town down badly.”

Some residents have called for Lancaster City Council to do more to force the developers to get on with the work.

But Coun Clifford said: “We’re up the creek without a paddle.

“Planning law is very much weighted in favour of the developer.

“Unless anything horrendous happens, we really can’t do anything other than keep haranguing them.

“As a private citizen, I won’t shop (at Morrisons) any more. It’s about our public saying, pull your finger out, get on with this thing.

“It’s owned by Morrisons, it’s their responsibility to get on with it. There is absolutely no excuse. There is so little councils can do.

“Write to Morrisons head office and say Morecambe has had enough now. Get a move on, get a grip or sell it on.”

A Morrisons spokesperson said: “Our development partner, Opus North, has received strong interest in the site from retailers and continue to work hard behind the scenes to secure pre-lets before they can make a start on-site.”

An Opus North spokesman said they had no further comment.

Coun Clifford’s remarks came during a Facebook Live interview with The Visitor, held after last week’s Bay Tourism Annual General Meeting at the Midland Hotel.

He also teased that a “major announcement” was due within the next four to six weeks which would boost tourism in Morecambe.

And he also said people need to be “evangelists” for Morecambe and talk up the town because it is a “marvellous” place to live.

During the same interview we also spoke to John O’Neill, manager of Morecambe Business Improvement District (BID).

Both Coun Clifford and Mr O’Neill gave their views on the plans for the expanded Aldi supermarket on the Morecambe Superbowl site and how to get more visitors into Morecambe.

You can see the interview at www.facebook.com/thevisitornewspaper .