Farewell Taco Bell: Ambitious Norcross retail redevelopment plans scrapped

The prospect of the county's first Taco Bell is no more - as the huge Norcross retail and leisure redevelopment has been scrapped and replaced with new housing proposals.

Thursday, 7th October 2021, 4:27 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th October 2021, 4:52 pm

The former DWP site in Norcross Lane was set to become a 72,000sq ft retail and leisure development - a deal struck by agent Kier Property - hosting some of the country's most well-renowned brands.

But a spokesman for Wyre Council said that the retail permission for the site had expired, and as nothing had been implemented since it was given the go-ahead, an application for 93 houses has since replaced it.

"The site is now subject to an application for residential development instead," they confirmed.

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An artist's impression of the retail development at Norcross, which has now been cancelled in favour of affordable housing.

Of the proposed houses, 20 will be two-beds, 43 will be three-beds and 30 will be four-beds.

Kier Property also told The Gazette it had sold the site in June, but the firm was unable to disclose any further details.

In 2019, Marks and Spencer signed up to anchor the site, taking up 20,000sq ft of the space, with Costa Coffee and Taco Bell - the first in the county - also getting on board.

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The area set for 93 houses if permission is granted to McDermott Homes.

Readers of The Gazette left hundreds of comments in response to the retailer announcements two years ago, with many people concerned for the future of Cleveleys shops if M&S moved from its unit in Victoria Road West to Norcross.

The site was also earmarked for around 170 houses, a retirement housing scheme and an employment area and would have included 354 parking spaces.

But according to documents submitted to Wyre Council by housing developer McDermott Homes, the retail and leisure park plans have been scrapped in favour of affordable housing.

In its masterplan, McDermott Homes said: "Following cancellation of the committed retail and leisure development by Kier Property Developments, and the acquisition of that part of the allocation site by McDermott Homes, it is proposed to extend its residential redevelopment proposals by creating Phase 4.

A play area has been proposed by the developer alongside 93 new homes.

"This proposes the erection of 93 new homes with associated car parking, landscaping and access from Norcross Lane.

"The Council advised in preapplication discussions, that an appropriate enhancement scheme would be informal children’s play provision such as a trim trail or similar pieces of equipment which will not be visually harmful in the Green Belt, and additional landscape planting."

The developer said an informal children’s play area made up of timber totem poles, a log walk trim trail and series of stepping logs would be included in the scheme.

It is to be set within raised circular grass mounds, with timber seating and extra tree planting.

Three other phases of development have already been granted permission under McDermott Homes' plan to build "at least 300" houses.

Phase one comprised 158 homes, phase two 66 homes with access from White Carr Lane, phase three 11 homes with intentions to integrate them into the now-scrapped retail masterplan, with a further 93 homes now added as the fourth phase.

The developer was satisfied there were enough education settings in place for new residents "within 2000m walking distance, namely Millfield Science and Performing Arts College, Anchorsholme Primary School, Carleton Green Community Primary School, Carleton St Hilda’s C of E Primary School, Kincraig Primary School and Blackpool and Fylde College.

"It is therefore considered that there are a variety of educational opportunities for residents at the site," it said.

But Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) said the site would have a "direct impact" on health services available in the area, and requested an "appropriate financial contribution" from the developer.

The CCGs asked for £33,325 in order to reconfigure and extend Thornton Medical Centre & Beechwood Surgery to cope with increased demand from a potential 266 extra people living on the site.

A "road spur" connecting directly to the proposed main road entrance from Norcross Lane, connecting all four phases together, has also been proposed.

But since the plans were submitted on September 1, objections have been vastly outweighing support for the scheme.

One objector said: "I object to the through road in the plans which will create a 'rat run' through our housing estate.

"Our quiet housing estate will become dangerous for young children and even with speed bumps there will a constant flow of traffic.

"When purchasing our McDermott home we were categorically told by the developer that there would not be a through road. I, along with my neighbours, strongly disagree with the plans."

Another added: ". I would like to object to the proposal due to the access from Norcross Lane which will turn what is currently a non-through road (which allows for access to the properties for residents and visitors), into a potential 'rat-run' for all vehicles trying to avoid Norcross roundabout and seeking a short-cut travelling Northbound.

"The current McDermott development has no thoroughfare which means the roads mainly serve those living on the estate. As is reported regularly, Thornton-Cleveleys already has issues with speeding traffic and to create a through-road through the middle of the development will surely lead to much increased traffic - no doubt travelling above the appropriate speed limits for a residential area."

But some residents were in support of the plans to add a connecting road between each development.

"If, inevitably, this will go ahead despite the likelihood of increasing risk of flooding on White Carr Lane from Royles Brook and increased traffic on the lane, which has already required what safety improvements are feasible on such a very narrow lane with several sharp bends, it is vital to have a through road linking White Carr Lane and Norcross Lane," one person said.

"This will give motorists an optional route rather than the singular one of entering and leaving the estate via White Carr Lane. It should also help reduce rather than worsen the traffic situation on the lane and the constant usage of it from lorries and other commercial vehicles."