Central Promenade Competition

A sectional perspective of one of the Chips
A sectional perspective of one of the Chips
The Proposal for Central Promenade Site
The Proposal for Central Promenade Site
The Site in Morecambe
The Site in Morecambe
View from the Central Promenade
View from the Central Promenade
Project date
  • Architecture
North West England
RIBA and Lancaster City Council
Associated team members
Associated documents

Central Promenade Site in Morecambe was a design competition launched by RIBA in conjunction with Urban Splash and Lancaster City Council. This was a two stage open competition for the design of an inspirational development framework for the beautiful 4.7 h (12 acres) sea front site. The competition objective was to secure a high quality sustainable development delivered to the highest architectural standards which complemented the adjacent Art Deco Grade II* Listed Midland Hotel (which Urban Splash is refurbishing) and to create an exciting development for the waterside site on one of Britain's natural wonders.

Urban Splash, the developers for the site, looked at delivering an outstanding waterside development, which realised the potential of this site and reinforced the regeneration of the broader Morecambe area. URBED along with Farrer Huxley Associates as landscape architects were among the longlisted designers at stage one assessment.

There is nothing sadder than a seaside town out of season and Morecambe has been out of season for some years now. Once the twenty railway platforms next to the Winter Gardens disgorged hundreds of thousands on their annual holidays from the factories of Glasgow and Northern England. Morecambe was one of the great northern resorts rivalling Blackpool and Scarborough.

It is no more.

Blackpool and Scarborough have had some success in reinventing themselves and taken on the challenge of the foreign package trip. However, Morecambe entered a circle of decline in which falling visitor numbers led to inadequate investment so that there was less to attract people and so on… Despite the huge efforts by the council to improve the promenade including an extraordinary amount of public art, Morecambe doesn't seem to know what it is and what it could be…  

The competition must answer this question.

There are two answers to this: making it a great place to live and providing quality day trip offer. Both build on Morecambe's greatest assets – its setting, its heritage, its reputation for youth culture and weekenders and, of course, its location next to the Lakes.

The scheme can help make Morecambe a great place to live for people working in the region and wanting access to some of the best countryside in the UK. The site has the potential to create a contemporary residential product with the most extraordinary views to broaden the range of people living in Morecambe.

The scheme can also help to provide a quality day trip offer. The trick here is to make Morecambe a good place to be – for everyone, residents, local people and visitors. Constantly trying to attract visitors can seem a little desperate, concentrating on quality and making it a good place to spend time will mean that people will come. This includes good quality bars and restaurants (as part of the scheme), a programme of events in the refurbished Winter Garden, a marina, art galley, pier and of course the refurbished Midland Hotel.

The development of the competition site is the most important opportunity to change Morecambe for a generation.

We have responded to the brief by creating a mixed-use scheme including the following elements:

The Dune: The lower part of the scheme is entirely taken up with active uses – kiosks, retail units, cafes and bars. These are fed by a public realm that rises from the esplanade and then slopes back down towards the sea. The effect designed as a boardwalk rising over dunes with terraces at different levels.

The Beach: On the seaward side of the scheme we have created a new beach with sand running to the top of the existing breakwater. There will be a series of beach bars and restaurants fronting onto this space serving both residents and visitors.

The Chips: Above the dune float four 'chip' – three storey residential blocks at right angles to the sea that extend out over the beach. The blocks have been designed with 1-3 bedroom 'scissor' apartments so that every unit gets a view of the sea.

The Esplanade: The spade in front of the Midland has been retained as public gardens – preserving the view of the midland hotel along the promenade. This includes the war memorial together with new landscaped formal gardens.

The Pier: The scheme includes a new pier alongside the stone jetty. This extends out to the deep water channel and will create an enclosed marina together with a wildlife viewing point. The proposal is to dredge an area to extend the deep water channel into the marina rather than to create a barrage.

The Flights: To exploit its location we propose a hovercraft link to the Lakes across Morecambe Bay. Hovercraft flights would be an attraction in their own right as well as allowing Morecambe to become a base for trips to the Lakes.

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