Opus North to create 500 jobs in £17m boost for resort

A YORKSHIRE-based property development and investment company has unveiled plans to create 500 jobs by opening a £17m retail and leisure park in Morecambe.

Ilkley-based Opus North plans to build a 100,000 sq ft complex of fashion shops, a hotel, restaurants, a family pub and 376 parking spaces on the former 10-acre Frontierland fairground site at Morecambe Bay.

If approved by planners, the new Bay Shopping Park, which is next to a Morrisons store, will fill the site on Morecambe Promenade.

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Two public exhibitions of the plans were held at Morecambe Superbowl at the end of November. Opus North expects to submit a planning application to Lancaster City Council at the end of next month.

Andrew Duncan, the managing director of Opus North, said that several well-known fashion stores were interested in establishing a base on the new retail and leisure park.

“We are proud to be bringing forward major investment in a well-known but disused site,” said Mr Duncan.

“It is our intention to create a lasting legacy of jobs and investment for Morecambe. The reaction of local Morecambe residents, when we exhibited our plans, was extremely positive. Eighty seven per cent of those who commented on our proposals were in favour of them, which is very encouraging,” said Mr Duncan.

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“This is the only retail development of a comparable size which is scheduled to open in the Morecambe and Lancaster region before 2017. It will provide a massive boost to the local economy and regenerate an area of the bay which has fallen into disrepair in recent years”.

Frontierland, part of the Blackpool Pleasure Beach empire, closed in 2000, and has since become an eyesore.

Bradford-based supermarket giant Morrisons bought the land in 2001 and initially aimed to open a Freeport-style shopping complex.

An Opus North spokesman said yesterday: “A Next, Homebase and gym sports shop opened on the site in 2008 but the rest of the land remained vacant as Morrisons struggled to sell during the recession.”

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Mr Duncan added: “For the past 12 years, this site has proved difficult to develop. Now, however, we believe we have devised plans which will create a thriving retail and leisure park of which Morecambe can be proud”.

Opus North specialises in office, industrial and retail developments.