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Protesters vow to protect wall from Urban Splash

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Campaigners have said they will chain themselves to a Grade II-listed wall outside the recently refurbished Midland Hotel in Morecambe (pictured) to stop developer Urban Splash knocking it down.

Urban Splash wants to flatten the famous white rendered wall and spiral gateposts at the front of Oliver Hill’s 1933 Art Deco gem, to help link the building with a neighbouring mixed-use project being masterminded by RIBA contest winner FLACQ.

The move has ‘shocked’ preservation group The Friends of the Midland Hotel (FMH).

FMH chair, Sue Thompson, said: ‘The wall has protected the hotel all these years, and I’ll protect it.

‘Other campaigners have threatened to attach themselves to the wall and I’d [do the same] – and probably get a criminal record for it. This is an unspoken betrayal by Urban Splash.’

'We have over the last five years been on the same side as Urban Splash, to support the renovation and survival of the Midland Hotel, but we now inevitably find ourselves on opposing sides, which I think is sad.

'But we have to take this stand to save this wall for everybody.'

The outline plans have been in the public arena for some time, but Thompson admits the group only picked up on the planned demolition when the application was validated in June.

Since then, Lancaster City Council has received almost 100 objections to the plans, which could be approved in September.

The Twentieth Century Society (C20) has also aired its concerns in the hope that the developer will reconsider.

A spokesman for C20 said: ‘Even to the uninitiated, this wall is clearly part of the fabric of the building and is more than just a mundane boundary wall – it has the same panache and design flourishes as the main hotel.

‘We are disappointed that the developer and its architects, having worked so hard on the hotel, seek to undermine all this by showing such naivety and lack of imagination with their ambitions to demolish an integral part of a listed building.’

However, Urban Splash claims the current plans followed extensive public consultation.

Development manager Paul Jones said: ‘We held a series of public meetings about the proposals in December 2006, attended by nearly 3,000 people.

‘People wanted the hotel to be integrated into the wider site. This is not a knee-jerk reaction, but the result of a lengthy design process.’

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