English Heritage has written to the Government Office for the North West to recommend that the outline planning application for the Centros’ Lancaster scheme be called in by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

English Heritage claims Centros’s scheme will ‘irreversibly damage’ the historic city and has said the demolition of many historic buildings will be replaced by buildings which are ‘entirely alien to Lancaster’s character.’

Henry Owen-John, North West planning and development director for English Heritage, said: ‘Implementing this scheme would cause lasting harm to Lancaster and damage much of what makes the city such a distinctive and special place.

'There is no doubt that this part of Lancaster needs regenerating.

'We have negotiated at length with the developer but it was not possible to secure a scheme which responded to, and was inspired by, the distinctive historic character of this part of the city.

'There is every reason why Lancaster’s heritage should play a part in the regeneration plans and help deliver a scheme with real identity and character.’

The proposed development has also been attacked by local protestors.

A small group of protestors descended on Centros’ Central London offices last week.

Seven protestors chained themselves together and shouted protests after forcing their way into the offices.

Police officers and fire services attenmded the scene and protestors eventually removed the locks themselves when the fire service arrived.

Centros submitted plans in the summer and last month Lancaster City Council’s planning committee resolved to grant outline planning consent for the project following a two day hearing.

The proposed development has also been attacked by local protestors.

A small group of protestors descended on Centros’ Central London offices last week.

Seven protestors chained themselves together and shouted protests after forcing their way into the offices.

Police officers and fire services attenmded the scene and protestors eventually removed the locks themselves when the fire service arrived.

Centros submitted plans in the summer and last month Lancaster City Council’s planning committee resolved to grant outline planning consent for the project following a two day hearing.