London & Cambridge Properties has said that it is considering its legal position regarding a rival scheme to its £4m Concourse Shopping Centre redevelopment in Skelmersdale which was granted planning permission in March.
The property company has issued a statement in which it says it still intends to go ahead with a refurbishment and extension of the Concourse, which will allow for a 20,000 sq ft cinema operated by The Light, alongside six restaurant outlets. The scheme was approved by West Lancashire Council in December.
LCP is delivering the Concourse project on behalf of joint venture partners Skelmersdale Limited Partnership and Threadneedle Investments.
Meanwhile, near to the shopping centre a 100,000 sq ft retail and leisure development by St. Modwen was approved in March, and a deal with cinema operator Reel was announced last week. The mixed-use scheme on a 14-acre site between the college and Skelmersdale town centre proposes 50,000 sq ft of retail units, as well as 50,000 sq ft of leisure including the six-screen cinema, restaurants and bars.
St Modwen is working in partnership with the Homes & Communities Agency and West Lancashire Council on the development.
According to Jo Salmon, retail portfolio manager for LCP, the developer “had no choice but to consider our legal options. The St Modwen scheme includes 50,000 sq ft of retail, which isn’t bringing anything new to the town but will just take three of the Concourse’s biggest anchors out, Aldi, Home Bargain and Poundland, leaving us with a 20% void.
“We don’t think the St Modwen scheme is deliverable. We know the market very well, have done an appraisal and looked at demand and building costs, and the numbers don’t add up. At this stage St Modwen needs to demonstrate that it could deliver the scheme as it suggests.
“However if the St Modwen scheme does go ahead it could cause the Concourse to close, and Skelmersdale will be left with a failed town centre and a retail park.”
Salmon declined to comment on the nature of the legal options LCP was looking into.
Salmon also said that granting planning permission to St. Modwen’s scheme had delayed progress at the Concourse as it had “confused” potential food and beverage occupiers. According to Salmon, the project would take up to six months to complete, and was initially due to open by September this year.
“Skelmersdale Limited Partnership has owned the Concourse Centre for over 18 years. During that time it has always supported the council’s proposals to seek to regenerate the town centre.
“However, it has always maintained that this should not be at the expense of the Concourse Centre, which forms an important and integral part of the town centre.”
A contractor is due to be appointed on the Concourse once food and beverage occupiers have been secured.
When asked by Place North West about why the council had approved both schemes, a council spokesman said:
“The Council recognise that St. Modwen and LCP have sought planning permission for competing schemes. From a planning perspective, that is acceptable, and from a retail market perspective commonplace, it is a matter for the commercial market to determine whether competing schemes are both viable and if not which is the preferred location for development.
“The Council has and will continue to encourage St. Modwen and LCP to engage in constructive dialogue with each other to achieve the council’s objective of development which provides linkage between their two sites and improves the retail and leisure offer and attractiveness of Skelmersdale town centre.”
St Modwen declined to comment.