Susan Parsonage

NW in 2018 | Bright future for Lancaster

A little over a year ago, I took up the post of chief executive for Lancaster City Council, writes Susan Parsonage. Driven by action, real collaboration and seizing opportunities, the area’s potential is becoming a reality.

The Council has made economic growth a priority. We are investing in the future to create business growth, attract investment and develop the skills needed in the area, matched with a big commitment to the visitor economy.

The opening of the Bay Gateway in 2016, has led to a growth corridor from the M6 to the Port of Heysham which opens up a wealth of possibilities in the area for international trade to places like Ireland and beyond, demonstrated by recent investment from Peel Ports, Surefreight, and Seatruck.

On top of this, the Council is facilitating regeneration in this strategic location to help create employment areas, including a focus on the technology and energy sectors.

The district’s recently created partnership of Coastal Community Team majors on new tourism opportunities for Morecambe and Heysham, in particular heritage-led regeneration.

Working with British Land, we’re progressing proposals for the long-awaited Canal Corridor North development in Lancaster – a once-in-a-generation opportunity. This will see the transformation and building of a new retail and leisure quarter for the city, which compliments the historic roman city and castle and helps magnify the cultural offer.

A significant part of the project is the development of a unique arts and cultural facility to anchor the overall scheme, which will build on our burgeoning reputation as a district of artistic repute. The Council will take final decisions on detail in the new year with a planning application for the development expected in 2018, with a start date of 2021.

A key partner in the proposals for the Canal Corridor North is Lancaster University, who also want a great place with a special regional offer to complement the fantastic success of the university.

The university is a partner in the development of proposals for a Garden Village at Bailrigg, adjacent to their campus. This provides an opportunity to design a new settlement from the ground up and will perfectly complement the university’s Health Innovation Campus and its promise of a world-class centre of excellence for innovation and research.

There’s no doubt that the future is bright and our unique position, not only as a key growth centre for Lancashire but also as an important part of Morecambe Bay, is a great advantage. This is reinforced by the three leaders of Lancaster, Barrow and South Lakeland Councils signing up to work more closely on economic development opportunities.

A historic city, beautiful coastline and incredible rural spaces combine to provide a stunning location whilst our heritage, arts and culture sets the area apart.

We have fantastic partners locally, across Lancashire and around Morecambe Bay, and together we are creating a great and thriving place.

The North West in 2018 series features guest contributors looking ahead to next year and is published throughout December.

Your Comments

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The Canal Corridor North proposals are a generation late, so hopefully they will be good.

By Gene Walker

You haven’t mentioned anything about the deprivation in the area, the homeless, the state of our Doctors Surgeries and hospital, hungry children ….just give all our cash to multi million pound corporations like British Land. Not one thing you have written about interests me in the slightest. No bright future here for the deprived.

By Grace Benson

Back in the mid 90s I established a company in Lancaster that used LCC owned office accommodation. We started with 8 staff in Rhodes House, St Leonard’s Gate and eventually took over both sides of Rhodes House employing 70 people in a City Centre Location. We then had Riverway House built for us at the end of Greyhound Bridge and over the next 10 years employed hundreds more at various sites.
Forward to 2017- We have quietly invested millions in an innovative Cloud based software solution, we currently employ 50 staff (all from our area) including many young gifted staff working in a high tech development envionmment. We are about to expand the business internationally and potentially increase staffing to well over 150 people. We have done this before in this region but sadly this time I fear we will need to move to another City. Not because Lancastrians can’t do the jobs or because we can’t attract people to Lancaster from out of the area. It’s because sadly there are no offices in Lancaster City Centre capable of housing us and anywhere we could have built our own have been turned over to student accommodation.
This is going to kill Lancaster City centre. Successful cities need a city centre workforce. There are no large office spaces in Lancaster City Centre anymore or those that still exist are held by speculators trying to turn them into accommodation or hotels.
I have kept quiet on local politics and infrastructure for a number of years but feel that if the Northern corridor is to be revisited it should be looked at afresh. Turning it over to more retail space is not the answer, it will divide the city centre with the one way system. It is however a wonderful opportunity to work with the university and other local innovators to look at developing a creative and technical hub. Somewhere that is anchored by a new arts and leisure area but also has the opportunity to create a vibrant working space that will bring new life into the city rather than push it out to satellite estates by the M6. We moved our business to the Lancaster Park estate in 2005 and we never had the same staff morale and community spirit again as we did in the City Centre where staff could go for lunch or meet for after work drinks.
I would be happy to be involved with Susan and Discuss these opportunities further.

By Mark Hallam

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