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Arcades Upgrade in the works

John Freeman
Plans for a multi-milion revamp of St. Nicholas Arcades in Lancaster are on display until Saturday (31st July) in the old Adams store.

Owners Rockspring, who have owned the arcade since 2004, have announced a £2.7 million plan to revamp the Arcades that will include a two-story NEXT and the creation of two other large new units would also be developed as part of the proposals.

Rockspring believe the scheme will address the lack of large retail units in the city centre as well as helping to prevent loss of trade to other towns. Although the 107,000 square foot retail Arcades have attracted a wide range of retailers since it opened and remains a busy shopping area in the town, a few units are currently empty (View an interactive map here).

The Lancaster Guardian reports Rockspring's European director Rod Mordey is "really excited" by the proposals and the plans have been welcomed by the Chamber of Commerce.

"There's no doubt that the retail offer in Lancaster at the moment is weaker than we would like it to be and this allows us to deal with that," Centre manager Jerry North told the paper.

"Next have had a longstanding requirement in Lancaster for a better fascia and we won't have any difficulties with the other units we are creating because there's interest out there for units of that scale which we haven't been able to provide for before."

Rockspring bought St. Nicholas Arcades in 2004 for over £20 million, working with the award-winning Edinburgh-based independent company Ediston Properties, whose client list also includes Royal Bank of Scotland, Henderson Global Investors and Schroder.

NEXT will take the largest unit in the new development which will be three times bigger than its current Cheapside store.

The proposals, which will probably be submitted to the Council next month, would also see the closure the pedestrian entrance to the centre from Great John Street, but an improved access point from Church Street. (Before St. Nicholas Arcades was built, access from Great John Street was by a stairwell, but we are unsure if the original street layout before that was ever considered a public right of way).

Rockspring have also revealed a new walkway would also replace Perpignan Way at the back of the centre. Some existing including Evans, Hallmark and Rastelli's cafe would be relocated.

The Guardian reports that a decision on the planning application would be made in November and if successful, building work would then begin in January 2011, to be completed by September 2011.

Existing shops will continue to trade if the development goes ahead.

• The plans are currently on show in the centre's former Adam's store between until 5.00pm on Saturday 31st July.

Read the full Lancaster Guardian news story