Multi-million pound Lancashire shopping centre plans are at a standstill

Standstill: The former Mitchell's Brewery site
Standstill: The former Mitchell's Brewery site
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Councillors have called for an inquest into a controversial £75m city centre shopping scheme because ‘nothing is happening’.

A team led by Coun Tim Hamilton-Cox wants Lancaster City Council to review its entire backing for the ‘Canal Corridor North’ plan even if it means pulling out altogether.

Tim Hamilton-Cox

Tim Hamilton-Cox

This comes 10 years after developers were first assigned to transform the area bounded by St Leonardgate, Moor Lane and Edward Street into a mixed-use development with shops.

But Coun Hamilton-Cox, a longtime opponent of the scheme, said: “It’s been over a decade since it was first mooted but we’re getting nowhere.

“Nobody has heard anything for more than a year.

“What we need is a proper appraisal. In our view the development should be housing-led.”

What we need is a proper appraisal. In our view the development should be housing-led.

Coun Tim Hamilton-Cox

Coun Hamilton-Cox and Green party colleagues will push for a review of all options for the 10-acre site at the next full council meeting on September 23.

They want council officers to look at the implications of withdrawing from an agreement with developers British Land. British Land last commented publicly on the Lancaster project in summer 2014 when it revealed objections to the planned Bay Shopping Park scheme in Morecambe.

They said a new shopping complex on the former Frontierland fairground site could cost Lancaster’s shopping sector £13m.

In June 2014, the London-based property firm said they were close to revealing their plans for the Canal Corridor North site, which includes numerous historic and listed buildings such as the former Mitchell’s Brewery site, as well as the Dukes and Grand theatres and the Musicians’ Co-Op building used by local musicians for rehearsals and recording.

But the council, or the developer, is now entitled to give written notice to terminate the contract because no planning application came in by November 21 last year.

Neither has done so, to date.

The council made the deal in July 2012 when British Land took over from original developers Centros.

But Coun Hamilton-Cox said: “Half the councillors on the council today weren’t around then.”

The Guardian contacted British Land but was told bosses were at an annual property conference and were not available for comment at this time.

A spokesman for Lancaster City Council said talks were continuing with the developer. A council report said “it would be premature and inappropriate” to withdraw from the contract with British Land until “all the relevant advice is available”.

The council spent £63,000 during a public inquiry into plans by the original developer Centros in 2009 then had a bid to recoup costs rejected by the Secretary of State.