About It's Our City
'It's Our City' is a group of Lancaster residents who came together when the Centros proposals to develop the Canal Corridor area were announced in 2006.
The City Council's 'preferred developer' Centros submitted 14 planning applications as part of a major retail development planned for the canal corridor north site based around a Debenham's department store and a multi-storey car park on St Leonards Gate. They also proposed to build a footbridge from the new development, over Stonewell, leading to the city centre.
The Centros plans were eventually rejected at a public inquiry in 2009, but now, in 2012, they are back with slightly modified plans that could make it even worse for the city. Our objections to these plans have changed very little since they were first proposed, showing that contrary to claims of a genuine consultation process, local taxpayers opinions have been ignored.
It's Our City is opposed to this proposed development on the following grounds:
- A significant increase in daily traffic will cause increased congestion and worse air quality. Centros claim they can sort out Lancaster's traffic problems by bringing more cars into the City to feed their new department store!
- Residential roads in Freehold and neighbouring wards will become even worse 'rat runs' than they are now because the plans will involve the permanent closure of Edward Street which is a well used rat-run.
- With dozens of empty retail units already in the City, Centros are proposing to build more empty retail units around their new department store. They claim that this will help to fill the shop units which currently stand empty in the City Centre!
- It seems inevitable that far from becoming an extension to the existing City Centre this development would become an alternative and competing City Centre, closing down more of the City's independent retailers and producing more empty shop units. Experience of other large retail developments around the country supports this outcome, which is even more likely this time, as there are no plans for a footbridge linking the new development with the city centre.
- The proposed development will see the effective privatisation of a huge area of our City as the Council will lease the entire area to Centros for 250 years. This means that all the rights that citizens enjoy on public land will be gone.
- Lancaster City Council may not have acted according to EU law in the procurement process and denied other developers the chance to submit proposals that may be more amenable to Lancaster residents and more in keeping with the expectations of visitors that come here because of Lancaster's unique enviroment.
- Since Centros became the City Council's preferred developer, by a secretive process that has never been explained, they claim to have been involved in a 'consultation process' with local people. While it may look good on paper, all it has amounted to is a box ticking exercise to support the claim that Centros and our council have consulted with the public. The truth is that city councillors who support the plans, are not interested in a genuine consultation process, as you can see at the end of this article about the Lawson's field cabinet meeting.
If you wish to receive updates on the development please join our mailing list.