Zoe Hooton Harrison Pitt Architects

NW in 2019 | Don’t stay away

Despite the obvious uncertainties, next year is set to be another strong year for domestic tourism and the property sector can benefit from this, writes Zoe Hooton of Harrison Pitt Architects.

I envisage that the growth of new leisure developments in the North West will continue in 2019 due to the much publicised trends of ‘staycations’ and ‘extracations’, particularly in the Lake District National Park, but also in the Lancaster and Morecambe regions, because of the regeneration projects planned for both these areas.

What is apparent, is that at long last there seems to be real momentum in the North West to recognise the untapped potential in promoting our areas of outstanding natural beauty. These include our protected coastal reserves and stunning rural landscape, plus the great variety of leisure activities and facilities available in the region.

The World Heritage Status of The Lake District announced in 2017 is gradually permeating through the region, with more investment in hotels and holiday parks. What is more encouraging, is the spread of investment to districts on the edge of the Lake District plus the innovative development of leisure and recreational facilities aiming to be different, sustainable and offer ‘something special’. I think this is certainly a growth area for 2019.

We are seeing an increase in work on projects that cater for ‘staycation’ facilities in the North West. The long hot summer of 2018 has kick-started the ‘unplanned long weekend’ with people and families enjoying the local countryside without the hassle and cost of travelling abroad. The demand for glamping accommodation is certainly set to rise on the back of this activity.

Harrison Pitt Architects has been involved in a project to create modular Plus Pods, as well as working on the development of timber lodges. We expect to work on more projects of this nature over the next year, particularly eco-friendly, energy-efficient design features and the use of sustainable materials.

At the other end of the ‘staycation’ spectrum is the luxury weekend away. Establishments in the region are investing in major refurbishment projects. An example being our work at Another Place, The Lake, offering “original experiences in distinctive locations”. It certainly appears to be in vogue to invest in old buildings and bring them back to life with high class appeal.

A local example is The Royal Kings Arms Hotel in Lancaster, where we have helped with a major refurbishment of their listed building, transforming it into Lancaster’s “luxury boutique hotel”.

Lancaster City Council’s driving force behind the development of the Canal Quarter, a multi-use development for the 16-acre site along Lancaster canal will increase interest and investment to this popular waterway and is definitely an area to keep an eye on in 2019.

The feasibility study to build a new Eden Centre in Morecambe, published in November, is a testament to the area’s potential to be a thriving tourism destination once again. Eden Project North potentially could bring a huge economic boost to the town and is quoted to be a ‘game changer’ for regeneration, but let’s see how far this plan gets in 2019. Morecambe’s unique environment and coastal location certainly offers the perfect combination for an attraction of this magnitude.

It’s going to be an exciting year for the region. I encourage businesses in leisure development to adopt sustainable tourism practices and preserve the local heritage.

And for holidaymakers in 2019, welcome to the North West and enjoy your stay!

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I love your enthusiasm, however, a few glam-camping parochial projects on farmers fields over looking pylons in the Lake District wont really help our industry from the inevitable camp slide into a limited market. Roll on the Eden Project!