A major redevelopment of St George’s Quay in Lancaster would see five new blocks housing 419 student bedrooms with the Carlisle Bridge arches as its “gateway”.
The St George’s Works Mill, currently derelict, would be demolished to make way for two six storey buildings with new pedestrian and cycle links into the city, open space, and car parking for 79 vehicles.
Luneside East Ltd, a joint venture between Manchester based CTP Ltd and London based Development Securities plc, said the three, five and six storey blocks would reflect the industrial history of the site, with high quality brick and pre-weathered steel used in their design.
But Lancaster Civic Society say the development is “rather lifeless”, and hopes the planning application is refused by councillors.
Martin Widden, from the group said: “We do not feel student accommodation is suitable on this site.
“Residential accommodation for families, couples or single people would have been more appropriate.”
The planning application, submitted to Lancaster City Council this week, lays out reasons for demolishing the derelict mill, but also makes provision for its retention.
The applicants say the proposed demolition of the mill would enable “a high quality permeable and accessible scheme and create an attractive new mixed-use ‘quarter’ for the wider Luneside East area”.
Part of the plans include a five storey glass fronted block directly by the riverside, and the retention of the former Pumping Station to the rear of the current mill. The plans make provision for “a creative and innovative approach to re-use the St George’s Works mill building if retained to create a landmark building to brand the development”.
The plans also include an 8m wide riverside pedestrian and cycleway as part of the National Cycle Route, with new access to Quay Meadow and Long Marsh Lane.
Outline planning consent was granted in 2002 for a comprehensive mixed use development of the Luneside East area as an “urban village” with up to 350 residential units and up to 8,000 square metres of business floor space, ancillary leisure uses and other “support uses”.
A fire gutted much of the building in 2012. Planning permission was granted in June 2014 for the erection of 149 dwellings, landscaping and car parking on the western side of the development.
Lancaster City Council have made a number of recommendations to the applicants.
Mr Widden went on to say: “If approved, this would be a rather lifeless development, of four buildings inaccessible to the public.
“We note that, although some 420 students would be living on this site if the application is approved, there would be few facilities other than the 420 rooms.
“The application states that ‘a high quality attractive public realm scheme will be created’, but it presents no drawings of such a scheme.
“The documents submitted by CBRE/Luneside East include some photographs, the largest of which is an aerial photo which unfortunately does not include the whole of the area of the proposals.
“To the south of the application site will be the housing development of 149 dwellings proposed by Persimmon and beyond that the traditional small-scale housing of the Marsh.
CBRE’s summary of the results of the consultation, held on 6 April, claims that ‘a large number of stakeholders supported the proposals and specifically support the proposed development.’
“However, only 10 written feedback forms were completed at or following the consultation event at Lancaster Cricket Club.
“This was a low-key and poorly-advertised event, and seemed to us barely half-hearted.
“CBRE’s claim that ‘a large number of stakeholders’ supported the proposals is absurdly overstated.
“The view of Lancaster Civic Society is that this application is not of the quality we would wish to see for this very important site, and we hope it will be refused.”
To see the full application, search for application reference 16/00574/FUL on the planning portal at www.lancaster.gov.uk.