PRP to map future of ‘under-utilised’ Lancaster Canal Quarter 

The city council has appointed the architectural practice to masterplan the 16-acre development site. 

Lancaster City Council owns the majority of the site and PRP will also work with private landowners within the area to create a coherent plan that features homes, hotels, offices, and a prominent cultural and artistic offer. 

The main privately-owned site within the Canal Quarter, previously known as Canal Corridor North, is the 2.5-acre former Mitchell’s Brewery. The site was previously owned by a joint venture between Worthington Properties and fund manager Revcap. 

However, following the developer’s collapse in 2019, Revcap went into partnership with Riverstone Developments to bring forward the site’s redevelopment. 

The joint venture is progressing plans for a mixed-use scheme at Mitchell’s Brewery that have been “well received”, the council told Place North West last year. 

Elsewhere, Maple Grove Developments, part of Eric Wright Group, has an option to redevelop another site within the Canal Quarter, the former Heron Chemical Works. 

Aside from the two privately owned sites, the rest of the area is made up largely of surface car parks and cultural assets – including Duke’s, Lancaster Grand Theatre, and the Musicians’ Co-Op – which are under council control. 

PRP will take a “retrofit first” approach to the reimagining of the Canal Quarter, it said. 

Manisha Patel, senior partner at PRP, added: “We have an opportunity for genuine placemaking with an exciting cultural and leisure offering, housing, connectivity and sustainability, with a retrofit-first approach for the site’s historic buildings, at the forefront of our design.” 

The masterplan will follow the blueprint laid out in a strategic regeneration framework for the Canal Quarter, drawn up by Planit IE and Avison Young. 

A previous retail-led iteration of the Canal Quarter scheme was brought forward by British Land in 2013 but the partnership between the council and the developer was terminated in 2018 and British Land sold its interest in the site to Worthington the following year. 

Cllr Gina Dowding, cabinet member for planning and placemaking, said: “The Canal Quarter is home to some of Lancaster’s most important cultural assets but is also isolated and under-utilised. 

“We want to change that and breathe new life into the site and of course, the city council cannot do this alone. It will require continued energy and commitment from landowners, developers, businesses and engagement with residents to create a genuinely desirable and attractive place to live, work and play.” 

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Looking forward to this. I’ve got great hopes for this mix of uses and approach after 30-odd years of the wrong strategy being pursued for the site.

By Gene Walker

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