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Take back control say Greens on Canal Corridor. Petition launched


Green Councillors' proposal for the Canal Corridor development
Green Councillors' proposal for the Canal Corridor development. Click to enlarge
Chris Satori

A public meeting attended by around 70 people at the Gregson Centre on Tuesday, 13th March was told by Green Party speakers that the proposed scheme by British Land was full of financial and environmental risks. They calculated that it would be more financially sound for the Council to take control by introducing its own Community-led scheme. 

Bulk Ward Councillor Tim Hamilton-Cox, who was one of two speakers at the meeting, said:

“The proposals put to councillors in October last year included the Council being locked into 25- or 30-year leases for the arts hub and underground car park - where the Council would be on the hook for paying the rents to British Land regardless of the income earned by both. This is exactly the same situation as with Lancaster market and ended up with the Council incurring big six-figure losses each year - as the rents from market stalls declined - and having to buy itself out of the lease. British Land is 'de-risking' the scheme for itself by transferring risk to the taxpayer.”

Nick Wilkinson presented an alternative approach at the meeting – which has already been successfully adopted by Winchester City Council in a similar scheme:

“The Council owns 50% of the land and is in a strong position to drive this development – instead of letting British Land make all of the running. We envisage a phased approach where the Council would start by commissioning a mix of private and social housing by the canal. This would then give it revenue to pump-prime a development of an arts quarter with restaurants and other leisure facilities. The former Mitchell’s Brewery would make an excellent venue for housing or small business units and retail units.”

Green group leader Jon Barry said:

“The Council-led approach that we are suggesting would remove many of the risks to the Council associated with British Land’s scheme. These risks include the need for the Council to gain 7% income per year on the Council’s £25m input into the project and having to pay upwards of £1.5m rent for the car park and arts hub. We need to end our association with British Land as the main developer. It would then be fantastic if all the political groups on the Council would work together for a scheme without these risks that would truly benefit local citizens.”

There is a politically non-aligned facebook group: Canal Corridor Action Group which has set up an online petition calling on Lancaster City Council to halt the British Land-led proposal for the Canal Corridor North in favour of a community-led development. They will be holding a stall at the Spring Market on Friday 30 March.