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More Splash in Morecambe

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September 19 2005

The Central Promenade, a stretch of coast that represented Britain’s post-war decline, is to be redeveloped. An international design competition has been launched by Urban Splash and Lancaster City Council to find a master planner for the 4.7 hectare site on the sea front of Morecambe, once one of Britain’s most popular tourist destinations. The stretch of coast was the backdrop to the screen adaptation of John Osbourne’s The Entertainer, a searing indictment of post-Suez Britain, starring Laurence Olivier as a debauched vaudeville comedian in his final days.

Urban Splash are preferred developers for the regeneration of the site, which lies on Morecambe Bay and is adjacent to the Art Deco classic Grade II listed Midland Hotel, which Urban Splash is refurbishing. Speaking to Prospect contributor Phil Griffin in 2003, Tom Bloxham, chairman of Urban Splash, made a bold claim for Morecambe. “In ten years’ time, Morecambe will be Brighton to Liverpool and Manchester... I’m pleased to hear talk of Blackpool’s ambitions to be the Las Vegas of the North; we’re aiming for something a bit classier,” he said.

The jury for the competition, organised by RIBA, includes Ken Shuttleworth (Make Architects), Hugh Pearman (critic and author), Cllr Ian Barker, (leader, Lancaster City Council), Brian Gray (chairman, Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA)), Tom Bloxham MBE and Jonathan Falkingham (chairman and chief executive, Urban Splash).

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