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Morecambe Queen's Market project may be scrapped unless funding found by end of year

Nick Smith outside the Queen's Market building in Morecambe

A developer may have to give up on his dream of bringing an iconic Morecambe building back into use unless funding is found by Christmas.

Nick Smith has spent the last seven years restoring the former Palladium Cinema, Crystal T's and Concorde Squash Club building on Victoria Street in the town centre completely on his own.

Mr Smith has been working to attract investors to help him fund a company to run the 'Queen's Market' as a food hall and centre to develop skills and a sense of civic pride in Morecambe residents, particularly young people.

But the project has now reached "breaking point", says Mr Smith.

"I have been given an ultimatum by my family that we can't carry on past Christmas," he said in a statement on the Queen's Market Facebook page.

"If funding is not found by then, the community interest company will be shut down and the money raised up to that point will be given to St John's Hospice. I will then let the building at full market rent.

"For almost seven years I have been restoring this amazing building completely on my own.

"If the community isn't behind this project, I'll have no choice but to sell out to out of town developers."

Nick, who bought the-then derelict building for £50,000 at an auction in 2015, recently told Beyond Radio about his plans for the project.

His vision is for Queen's Market to be used for art, performance, music, science, tech and engineering projects, education, experience-led retail and much more.

He has called the project 'Queen's Market' because it was first built as a market hall in the 19th century.

LISTEN to Nick speaking about the Queen's Market project reaching its "breaking point".

"I'm trying to get across to the people of Morecambe what the building is going to do for Morecambe," he said.

"It's about regenerating the town, it's about growing talent, it's about giving the opportunities to the young people and the older generation to really shine and have a 'Morecambe Made Me' brand to the whole town.

"I've restored the building. It was going to be demolished. I've saved it into what I believe to be a really special building, and that's all done now.

"We have a community interest company (CIC) set up that can't exist within the building until we have a fire system and all the health and safety protocols.

"That's beyond my means to finance, so I'm looking for any help financially and ambassadors for Queen's Market to help do what the building is going to do for the town.

"It's about bringing in organisations, businesses and charities and using Queen's Market as a showcase to grow the town.

"But without the funding, we're not going to succeed, and I'm at this breaking point where it may have to be a commercial let, and not the special project it's going to be."

Nick is running a 'sponsor a petal' initiative where people can have their names on the ceiling of the building in exchange for a donation, in an attempt to raise £1 million.

He has also created a 'bee' as a symbol for the project, because of the 'BE' in the word 'Morecambe'.

Mr Smith said he believed the CIC would need at least £300,000 to set up.

"We need to get enough for the CIC to be able to exist in the building by paying rent, insurance, business rates, planning consent fees, alongside setting up the projects and paying people to do that," he said.

"£1 million is of course a very ambitious figure and with that amount we would have no problem finding enough people to run each of the projects inside the building, set up the food hall and make the businesses thrive, giving back the profit to the CIC.

"As the property owner, I need to be certain that the CIC can maintain itself and pay all its own bills without me subsidising it, before it takes on the lease.

"On that basis, I would possibly say £300,000 - this would give me confidence that the project could take off without me having to eject my own CIC for not being able to pay their rent/bills."

Nick will host open days this Saturday, September 3 and Sunday September 4, from 10am to 4pm for anyone who would like to take a look around the building.

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