Centros takes stock after Denham rejects plans

Developer Centros said it will consider its options following the rejection of the proposed Canal Corridor North retail development in Lancaster.

John Denham, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, refused planning permission for the project just before Christmas: a public inquiry was held earlier in the year. The decision was based on concerns about the evidence for removing some of the buildings on the site, and the amount of retail floor space in the early years of the scheme.

However, Centros and Lancaster City Council, which backed the scheme, said the rationale for the scheme and its fit with strategic planning policies for Lancaster was accepted.

A spokesperson for Centros commented: "Whilst the minister's decision is a disappointment, it clearly provides a very positive framework for the redevelopment of this site.

"We will now consider the Secretary of State's decision and the inspector's report in detail and work with Lancaster City Council to devise a strategy to realise the successful regeneration of this important site in the heart of the city centre."

The scheme would have featured 427,000 sq ft of retail and leisure, anchored by Debenhams, alongside offices, residential and an 800-space car park.

Cllr Keith Budden, chairman of Lancaster City Council's planning committee, said: "We are grateful for the careful consideration the inspector has taken over his very detailed report.

"While it is disappointing that planning permission for the scheme has been refused, the report and the Secretary of State's decision give the council a clear position on the type of development which will be acceptable on the site in the future. The decision totally vindicates the council's decision to appear at the inquiry and make the case for a positive steer about the development from the Secretary of State.

"All the parties who presented evidence to the inquiry accept that the canal corridor site is run down and in urgent need of regeneration.

"If we don't then we run the risk of falling behind other towns and cities in the north west.

"We will be studying the inspector's report very carefully and will use its recommendations to work with the developer, Centros, and all other interested parties to bring forward a revised scheme to regenerate this run down and dilapidated site as a priority in the New Year."

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