Q: Why do we need more shops in Lancaster?
A: With the range of available existing units generally being too small or poorly configured, the city centre has, for some time, been unable to provide the space that retailers need. As other competing towns and cities have developed their shopping attractions, local shoppers have been drawn elsewhere to shop.
Combined with the impact of the recent economic downturn, the result has been the continuing decline of the existing city centre’s shopping provision. And local independent retailers – who also tend to benefit from the shopper flows generated by the larger shops – are often the ones that suffer the most.
Investing in the city centre to create the right amount of shopping for the city’s natural catchment population is the solution.
We need to provide sufficient variety and choice to draw local shoppers back to Lancaster. Reversing the outward flow of shoppers is not only environmentally more sustainable – by significantly reducing the large number of trips made elsewhere – it will also benefit the city as a whole.
Q: Won’t the growth of internet shopping have an impact on the need for ‘bricks & mortar’ shops?
A: Internet shopping is certainly having an impact on the nature of city centre shopping, especially in sectors such as books and music. But shopping is also a social activity that people engage in with their family and friends. With clothes shopping in particular, people like to see, touch and try on the latest fashions – often buying something to wear that same evening.
Towns and cities that have embraced investment and change have seen the vitality of their high streets enhanced.
The Canal Corridor North site – with features such as the canal and the two theatres – offers the potential to create a very exciting environment that people will wish to visit, enjoy and spend time in.
ANSWERS TO SOME COMMON QUESTIONS
Q: How will British Land take care to ensure that existing city centre shopping is not adversely affected by the new development?
A: The proposed development provides the only real opportunity within Lancaster to deliver a comprehensive city centre retail development that will have a positive impact upon the vitality and viability of the centre. Clearly, the city centre needs to work as one, so that people are attracted to visit both the old and the new areas.
Maintaining the vitality of the existing city centre will therefore come down to achieving the right balance – creating enough space to fulfil the needs of retailers, but not too much.
To help achieve a good balance, we anticipate developing a letting strategy for the new shops that is focused on attracting new retailers to the city. In addition, we need to make sure that the connectivity between old and new is well-considered.
We are also very keen to support the new Business Improvement District and its proposals for enhancing and promoting the city centre.
Q: What is British Land’s relationship with Centros?
A: British Land is the developer and investor in the Canal Corridor North site and we have appointed Centros – one of the UK’s few specialists in the regeneration of historic town and city centres – to help manage the development on our behalf.
Under the direction of British Land, they will co-ordinate the work of our development team through the planning and construction process.
Q: British Land is described as a “REIT” – what is that and how does it work?
A: REITs are government supported investment companies that provide opportunities for shareholders – including individuals – to invest in property.
Being a REIT means that profit is distributed, and tax paid, in a different way to other UK companies. REITs must distribute 90% of profit from their income to their shareholders and tax is then paid by the investor instead.
You may have some questions about our proposed development, but at this very early stage, it is not possible to provide detailed answers. However, here we give some general answers to a few of the more obvious questions.
We will endeavour to add answers to further frequently asked questions as the development plans progress.
Q: What is the timescale for the development?
A: If we can submit a planning application in the next 12-18 months and that gains approval, then construction could start in 2015 and the completed development could open in 2017 or 2018.
Q: How many jobs will the development provide?
A: We will not be able to estimate that until we have established the size of the scheme and its mix of uses.
However, it will certainly amount to hundreds of jobs, both in the construction process and long term. The contribution that will make to the local economy will run into tens of millions of pounds over the coming decades.
We will also develop a ‘Local Employment, Training and Skills Strategy’ to maximise the number of local people employed on both the construction site and in the completed development.