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Plan revealed to bulldoze Morecambe Prom businesses to make way for new hotel

The proposal is for a new hotel on the site of several businesses between 228 and 235 Marine Road Central

A plan to demolish a row of businesses on Morecambe Prom and build a new hotel for visitors to the Eden Project has been revealed.

The Bayside Emporium antiques centre, The Consult Centre and Bays Bikes, AJ's Burger Bar, the Lakeland Rooms and former Strawberry Dance Studios - located between 228-235 Marine Road Central - would be affected by the proposed development, if it goes ahead.

Developer TAG Morecambe Limited has plans to knock them down and build a new hotel with restaurant, bar and coffee shop.

Beyond Radio has been told there has been some "bad feeling" about the proposed hotel among some of the businesses, who say they were not consulted about the plans and who may now have to relocate.

Ian Arnold, owner of Bays Bikes, has told us that he is going to "bite the bullet" and move out in October.

John O'Neill, manager of Morecambe BID, an independent body representing local businesses, said: "Morecambe welcomes new development and investment however it shouldn't be at any price.

"It should be sympathetic with the existing area, especially when we have a vacant seven-acre plot in Frontierland that's ripe for leisure investment (hotels, holiday apartments etc) that wouldn't cause disruption to any existing businesses and their employees. "We have an eclectic and independent mix of businesses on the promenade and side streets and they should be encouraged to stay."

A 'screening request' has gone in to Lancaster City Council ahead of a full planning application for permission to demolish the buildings and construct the hotel. The council will have to approve the scheme before it can go ahead.

An Environmental Impact Assessment screening report, produced on behalf of TAG Morecambe Ltd, says: "The existing buildings are in a mix of uses, including retail, hot food take-away, dance studio, offices, residential and short-term holiday rental accommodation. Some of the accommodation is vacant, with short term leases remaining on the occupied areas.

"It is proposed to demolish the existing buildings at the site, redeveloping the land within the same approximate footprint as the existing buildings to provide a hotel, with ancillary facilities such as restaurant, bar, coffee shop along with associated works including a vehicular drop off/service bay on Marine Road, external seating areas between the principal elevations and the back of public highway, landscaping and infrastructure works.

"In terms of the operational stage of development, it is likely that a number of visitors to Eden North, who would already be planning to visit the town to access that facility, may stay at the proposed hotel."

Here is an image of the proposed scale and massing of the hotel, taken from the Environmental Impact Assessment Screening Report at the council website.

One of the businesses affected, the Bayside Emporium, has been at 235 Marine Road Central for the past seven years. The antiques centre is run by Lee Clarke (below).

LISTEN to our interview with Lee Clarke from Bayside Emporium

"It was very sudden," said Mr Clarke, talking about how he found out about the plans for the hotel. 

"We rent this shop, as do most of the people along this block. It's possible I will have to look further afield.

"We love being on Morecambe Promenade and I think we add quite a lot to the Prom with our presence and our quirkiness. It's a shame for the businesses.

"I think there's a bit of bad feeling amongst some of the business owners. It's going to affect them.

"It's also that they're bulldozing an entire block full of character. Is it the start of bigger things regarding some of these blocks, and the face of Morecambe?

"We'll be fine. It's not going to happen overnight. It could be a year. It could be two years. We'll keep our eyes and ears open and we'll look for something bigger and better, if anything. But I would have loved to stay.

"Eden is going to change a lot of things, a lot of them will be for the better. I don't know about this hotel."

The Consult Centre is a social media agency and room hire firm run by local businesswoman Ruth Wilkinson (pictured below), based in the upper floors of 231-233 Marine Road Central, employing 10 people.

Ms Wilkinson also runs a consultancy company Ruth Wilkinson Consulting from the premises. 

"As a business owner, local employer and leaseholder of the building, this news is, of course, a cause for concern and a significant worry regarding the impact on our business and on the jobs we provide for our local team of 10," she said.

"With that said we know that new development and businesses coming to Morecambe could have a positive impact on our town and economy, and that is something to be encouraged.

"At this stage, there has been no formal planning application from the developer; we would of course urge the developer to get in contact with us, something we have requested several times and disappointingly at the time of comment have not received a response to."

The Consult Centre's lease on two floors of the building expires in November 2027.

Over the years the premises has been home to several night-spots including Charleston's and Fred's on the Ball.

The ground floor is now home to bicycle shop Bays Bikes, run by Ian Arnold and partner Julie Wood. They have been there for five years and the business has been in the town for 15 years altogether, having previously had a shop in the West End.

LISTEN to our interview with Ian Arnold from Bays Bikes

Mr Arnold said: "We've already decided to bite the bullet on it and we're shutting the shop down.

"(The hotel) is one of those things that has happened and it's for the good of the area, supposedly.

"We're hoping to move back to Alice Street, where Mike's Bikes used to be. We will be out of here in October.

"I just hope (Eden) goes to how everybody plans. I do have my reservations but only time will tell. I just hope it's not another Blobbyland."

There is also an occupied flat in the building, above Bays Bikes.

AJ's Burgers takeaway is located next door and there is an occupied flat above the business too.

The Lakeland Rooms accommodation next door to AJ's, is currently in use, while the former Strawberry Dance Studios on the ground floor is vacant.

The Consult Centre/Bays Bikes and AJ's buildings are owned by the same landlord, while Bayside Emporium is owned by a separate landlord. 

TAG Morecambe Limited's registered office is in Manchester and the business is run by Luke Averill.

Beyond Radio has contacted Mr Averill who said he would be happy to comment at a later date once the scheme is further along the planning process.

TAG Morecambe Ltd's screening report says: "It is considered that the proposals would be in keeping with the current nature and scale of the surrounding development.

"Due to urban nature of both the current use of the site and the proposed development, it is not anticipated that the proposals would result in any higher levels of contamination or environmental effects, with the largest change/effect being in respect of the demolition and construction phase of development and not the operational phase.

"Although the proposals would result in potentially more people at the site at any one point in time, this is unlikely to be any greater number than would be potentially visiting the town already, particularly after the development of the Eden North facility, and their use of the site would largely be as a linked trip.

"During the demolition and construction phase there may be a increase in traffic movements and an impact on noise and air quality, however...these effects would be short lived and transient in nature and could be managed through an appropriate construction management plan.

"The proposed development is therefore not considered to likely result in impacts of such significance to be considered Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) development as defined by the EIA Regulations and we request confirmation from LCC as LPA that an Environmental Impact Assessment will not be required in respect of the development proposal."

The council's response to this says: "In conclusion, the proposal will give rise to a number of planning considerations that will need to be assessed as part of associated planning application, but neither individually nor cumulatively result in likely significant environmental impacts triggering the need for an environmental statement."

Both reports are available in the planning section of the Lancaster City Council website.

Work on the proposed Eden Project Morecambe, an earmarked new attraction across the Promenade from the planned hotel, is expected to start in 2024 with a targeted opening date of 2026.

The Eden facility is expected to bring a huge number of visitors to the area.

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