Securing investment; improving assets and infrastructure; attracting high quality jobs; creating a city with a strong cultural and leisure offer.
What actions are we taking?
Culture and Leisure
Animating the city centre, driving footfall to support the high street and celebrating the rich diversity of Preston has been delivered through the Council's events programme.
Last year saw the return of the ever-popular Egg Rolling, following a two-year absence due to Covid with record numbers attending and high levels of visitor satisfaction.
The summer offer included a range of events including the annual favourites delivered by external organisations:
- Preston City Mela
- Caribbean Carnival
- Harris Fashion Show
- Films chosen by the community.
Last year also saw the Platinum Jubilee celebrations with the lighting of the beacon from the steps of the Harris, the national Commonwealth Games Baton Relay travelling through the city, and the proclamation for the new King, King Charles III on behalf of Lancashire.
The Mobile Event Tent (MET) launched last year, firstly on the former Markets site with a range of local artist commissions and events and then moving to UCLan Square in September and in partnership with the university hosted a range of public and student events, forming part of the Welcome week offer to welcome new students to Preston. This provided a real opportunity to pilot the venue and inform the future use, operation and programme.
The Encounter festival was hosted over the weekend of 16 - 18 September animating the MET, Bus Station apron, Flag Market, markets and Winckley Square. Saturday night hosted a torchlight procession, including a tribute to Her Majesty the Queen culminating in a finale projection show and live choir from the bus station. Attracting an estimated 35,000 people, showcasing 150 artists and hosting 1,200 participants.
Looking ahead to 2023/24 the city's events programme will further develop with the annual Egg Rolling returning followed by partnerships to support the development of community led events including:
- Jazz Festival
With an aim to increase their reach and support the growth of the individual annual favourites. Funding has been applied for to support the delivery of the MET in Ribbleton and then back to the UCLan Square, working with local communities to co-produce and curate a programme for the venue. Funding has also been applied to deliver the Encounter festival in September and as a minimum the torchlight procession will be held.
The Harris has been awarded Arts Council England, National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) funding from April 2023 which will continue to support a Marketing Assistant, Contemporary Art Curator, Assistant Curator and Partnerships and Development Officer. In addition, funding will support the delivery of the Harris Activity Plan.
The Cultural Framework Board have been working with the Council's web team to improve the what's on marketing approach for the city, supporting the development of a health and wellbeing project on Ashton Park, subject to an Arts Council application and working with Arts Lancashire to develop a bespoke programme of support for the local independent creative sector to roll in January 2023.
UK Shared Prosperity Funding will be used during 2023/24 and in 2024/25 to fund a series of major events in the city to mark the re-opening of the Harris, the opening of the Animate leisure complex and the inauguration of the Youth Zone.
Re-imagining the Harris
Further funding secured from Preston City Council, Lancashire County Council and existing project funders has resulted in the full scope of project works being delivered, despite the pressures of inflation and rising material costs. Conlon Construction have been appointed as the main contractor and they have started work on the internal strip out, building protection, asbestos removal and external scaffolding.
The Fit Out and Showcase contractor have been appointed and the AV contractor is subject to Council approvals. The project is on programme with a re-opening date planned for 2024.
Looking ahead to 2023/24 the Fit-Out contractor will return a delivery programme and market cost for the scheme to be finalised in spring 2023, build works for the showcases and fit out will commence and the construction side of the project is due to complete April 2024.
Further procurement for mount making, conservation and furniture will take place throughout the course of the year.
Community outreach, engagement and marketing will increase in activity over the course of 2023 leading into re-opening. A new Marketing Assistant and Collections Apprentice will be appointed, funded through the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The internal Harris team will be actively working to plan for reopening including staff training, programming and operational plans.
Preston City Investment Plan and Town Deal Bid
In March 2021 Preston was awarded £20.9m Towns Fund grant which was accepted by the Towns Fund Board and the Council acting as accountable body. This contributes towards £200m public and private sector investment going into the Harris Quarter. The 6 supported projects are:
- Harris Your Place (Re-Imagining the Harris)
- Animate (Cinema and Leisure Scheme)
- Preston Youth Zone
- Illuminate and integrate (Public realm and lighting enhancement within the Harris Quarter)
- Renewal of Harris Quarter Assets (Refurbishment and re-use of PCC- owned buildings)
- Educate Preston (Careers, Employment Information Advice & Guidance (CEIAG))
Detailed business cases and summary documents for each of the projects have now been approved with projects commencing from late 2022 onwards.
The grant award payments for 2022/23 were received in late June 2022. Following approval of the Harris Your Place business case governance structures, monitoring and evaluation strategies, project and programme management and multi- disciplinary project teams, the overall scheme commenced on-site in September 2022.
The Amounderness House project team continue to work towards the appointment of a tenant for the scheme, having undertaken an initial expression of interest exercise following by a further round of targeted advancement of bids.
The project team are now in the final stages of appointing a tenant, following Council approval in December, with a view to making an announcement early in 2023. Separately the Council's developer partner, Maple Grove Developments, is in pre-application discussions with the planning department.
Illuminate and Integrate project has continued to be advanced with a design and costing exercise undertaken to meet the budget. Stakeholder consultation and progression on the technical aspects are planned over the next few months; a start on site is programmed for mid-2023. The first phase of the project focusing on improvements to Old Vicarage Road will complement the delivery of the Animate project.
Alongside the Towns Fund programme, progress is also being made on the delivery of the wider City Investment Plan priorities which are reported elsewhere in this update.
The City Investment Plan, a 15-year vision for how the city should inclusively grow, is based on 6 key priorities for the city:
- Transform Preston's cultural infrastructure, focusing on our cultural and leisure facilities, spaces and programmes (basis of Town Deal programme).
- Supporting Preston's economic recovery, skills, growth and resilience.
- Delivering a new commercial district at Preston Station Quarter.
- Deliver a ground-breaking approach to community health and well-being in the city.
- Expand and diversify the housing supply to significantly boost city centre living.
- Achieve a step change in sustainable movement and accessibility in the city by delivering Preston's Transport Plan.
The Council is in advanced discussions with anchor partners in the city (Lancashire County Council and UCLan) to develop and establish a 'place based' partnership approach to regeneration in the City to help deliver the wider City Investment Plan priorities.
The PBP will be comprised of a Board and Delivery Group, the latter of which has recently been working to establish the former - it is hoped the first meeting of the Board will take place in the first quarter of 2023. One of the first actions of the group is to deliver a refresh of the City Investment Plan and associated priorities - the Council has now engaged the services of Hatch Associates to facilitate this process, which is expected to reach a conclusion in March 2023.
Along with the other projects described in this section of the APP, more details of these projects and their current status can be found on the Council-led website Invest Preston.
Animate (Harris Quarter Cinema and Leisure Scheme)
In November 2022 Council gave final approval to the c£45m scheme allowing officers to work towards completion of the Developer Funding Agreement allowing the agreement between the Council and Maple Grove Developments to become unconditional. The Developer Funding Agreement became unconditional in December, and construction of the scheme commenced on 9 January 2023.
The Council has previously announced that a cinema operator (the Arc) and bowling facility (Hollywood Bowl) have signed up as the anchor tenants. In November 2022 the Council announced that a trio of restaurant operators had also signed up to the scheme; Zizzi, Las Iguanas and Cosmo. The remaining units are in advanced negotiations. This is a key City Centre scheme which will support regeneration and community wealth building with the asset in local public ownership.
Transforming Friargate North and Ring Way and City Centre Public Realm
In March 2020, Lancashire County Council was awarded £40m from the Transforming Cities Fund to invest in public and sustainable transport and connectivity. £15m of this award has been allocated to Transforming Friargate North and Ring Way. Lancashire.gov - Transforming Cities Fund brings £40m transport boost for Preston area.
The scheme has been designed to improve access and journey times in and out of Preston city centre, including to the railway and bus stations, and the university, by bus and other active travel modes such as cycling, particularly from north, west and south Preston and neighbouring districts. It will also enhance this area of Preston improving accessibility and public realm to create a more attractive and vibrant area for shopping and eating.
It will reduce the impact of Ring Way to make it easier for pedestrians and cyclists to move between the Harris Quarter and UCLan and include the pedestrianisation of Friargate, with enhanced cycling provision, a transformative new signal controlled crossing point at Friargate/Ring Way junction, new bus interchange stops at this junction alongside bus priority at the Corporation Street junction, a bus gate on Corporation Street, a new cycle hub, cycle paths along Ring Way, and a cycle route along Butler Street, linking the Railway Station to Avenham and Millar Parks and beyond.
Construction works for Phase 1 (Corporation Street North) have been completed. Phase 2 Ringway commenced in February, and works on Phase 3 (Friargate) commenced soon after.
The works include improvements to the Peace Garden. As such the scheme is now partially complete and fully under construction. More details of the project can be seen at Lancashire County Council - Transforming Friargate North and Ringway.
Elsewhere in the City Centre there will be further improvements to public realm within the Harris Quarter brought forward by the City Council as part of the Illuminate and Integrate Towns Fund project. To promote active and more sustainable travel, UKSPF funding will be used to commission feasibility studies for a cycle hire scheme in the city and for extending public electric vehicle charging infrastructure on council sites.
Preston Railway Station
The Council approved the final Station Quarter Regeneration Framework in August which focuses on Railway Station led regeneration seeking to capitalise on the opportunities afforded by the arrival of HS2 trains.
The creation of a new commercial district in Preston Station Quarter is one of the key priorities of the City Investment Plan. The Framework will encourage and guide the regeneration of this part of the City Centre and is now a consideration in the determination of any planning applications.
The anchor partnership working practices which the Station Quarter Regeneration Framework utilised are now actively being progressed toward the establishment of a wider place-based partnership and commitment to regeneration across the city and delivery of the City Investment Plan priorities.
Cottam Parkway Railway Station
The remaining £25m of the £40m Transforming Cities Fund award has been allocated to the delivery of a new station at Cottam that will improve access and journey times in and out of Preston City Centre by rail and active travel modes, from northwest Preston. The station will be accessed from the Preston Western Distributor Road, which is currently under construction.
The station will serve both existing residential areas and the North West Preston strategic housing area where over 5,300 houses are being built through the City Deal programme.
It is anticipated that between 3 and 5 train services an hour could call at the new station, providing a frequent service to Preston and Blackpool, direct local connections to Blackburn, Burnley, Leyland and Chorley and further connections to Greater Manchester and the airport, Liverpool, Leeds, York, the Midlands and London. Approximately 1,000 passengers per day could use the station.
A planning application was submitted in August 2022. More details on the project can be viewed at Lancashire County Council - Cottam Parkway railway station.
City Living Preston and Stoneygate
The Preston City Living Strategy was originally launched in 2017 and has been instrumental in kick starting an impressive turnaround in city centre living as numerous residential schemes have come forward since that time.
A fully updated and expanded City Living Prospectus was launched at an online event in October 2020 attended by over 100 people from the development and investment community. Follow-up discussions with developers, landowners and investors are taking place as part of ongoing engagement and implementation of the strategy.
The expanded City Living prospectus promotes 27 sites in the City Centre and inner urban areas of Preston.
Following the City Living Strategy winning the prestigious Editor's Choice Award and the national Planning Awards last September, the Strategy has gone on to win further success in national awards. In April 2021, it won the national Royal Town Planning Institute category award for Excellence in Plan Making Practice with the following comments being made:
The judges said that this Strategy was extremely impressive. The plan and the practice in implementing it is innovative and leading, especially insofar as it is a planning document which seeks to involve itself with the practicalities of delivering development. Additionally, the planners had a proactive approach to addressing a wide range of issues such as de-risking brownfield sites to attract public and private investment, which is very transferable.
The judges particularly commended the inclusion of a human rights impact assessment within the Strategy, which is over and above the call of duty for planning.
Furthermore, the City Living Strategy went on to win the overall Excellence in Planning Award 2021, the RTPI Silver Jubilee Cup, with the judges commenting:
The team who worked on the Preston City Living Strategy have taken a pro-active approach and have acted beyond the boundaries to make positive and impactful improvements to the city.
The team introduces innovative mechanisms to involve and engage with the local community, as well as de- risking the deliverables. The human rights impact assessment is a unique addition to the Strategy, that leaves no-one behind, setting a really positive tone for how planning can benefit all in a variety of ways. This project is highly relevant to the levelling up agenda for the North and the experience is transferable across the UK. The judges applauded this project as an exemplary case of innovative planning and a worthy winner of the Silver Jubilee Cup.
Council officers are now in discussion with consultants regarding an update to the City Living Strategy, which will be undertaken in this financial year. An update to the schedule of sites is currently underway.
The principal area of focus for City Living Preston is the Stoneygate area of Preston where is the potential for over 1,600 new homes on brownfield sites ranging in size from over 300 new dwellings to small sites for a handful of units.
The Stoneygate Regeneration Framework was completed and launched in 2019. The Framework, which promotes an Urban Village concept, demonstrates how a residential-led strategy will transform this underused part of the City Centre into a thriving and vibrant mixed-use quarter.
A Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), which translates the principles of the Framework into planning policies that will influence all future planning applications in the area, was adopted in June 2020.
Implementation of the Stoneygate Regeneration Framework and SPD is being delivered through the City Living Strategy and in partnership with Homes England.
Council officers have now successfully secured capacity funding to progress and enhance our evidence base relating to the assembly and delivery of regeneration in the St Johns and Oakham Court area, which comprises the city centre gateway to Stoneygate. This work will be commissioned and undertaken by the end of this financial year.
City Deal and Preston Western Distributor (PWD) Road
Work on the PWD continues to make good progress with completion/opening expected in April 2023. Work is also progressing on the 2-mile East-West Link Road that will connect the PWD to Lightfoot Lane, opening up further residential sites within the North West Preston strategic housing area and this is expected to open at the same time as the PWD.
Promoting the City
Opportunities to promote the City through initiatives such as the City Investment Plan, Towns Fund projects, Levelling Up fund bid, City Living Preston and draft Station Quarter Regeneration Framework have been made the most of during 2021 and 2022 to date, with significant positive media coverage at local and regional levels. Significant progress on both Harris Your Place and Animate projects has created regular positive media coverage that has continued throughout 2022 to date.
The Harris Quarter Pop Ups Programme, in particular the unveiling of the Wallace and Gromit statue, created worldwide media coverage.
A comprehensive and ambitious communications plan is proposed for the Towns Fund projects, and separately for the Animate scheme specifically. Limitless PR have now been commissioned to produce the communications plan, in partnership with the Council and Towns Fund Board, and to support implementation of the plan for the next three years. This will ensure continued positive promotion of the city throughout 2023 and beyond.
The Preston Partnership website has been created to promote activity within the city and reinforce its role as an influential ambassador for the city.
UKPSF funding during 2023/24 and 2024/25 will provide the Preston Partnership with some pump priming to grow its membership and increase its capacity to promote the city.
Parks and Leisure Strategy 2021 - 2031
The Parks and Green Spaces Strategy 2021 - 2031 has been formally adopted and will now provide a strategic framework for the Parks Service to work with its partners and stakeholders to develop and implement key recommendations over the next 10 years.
The strategy will run alongside the recommendations within the Central Lancashire Playing Pitch and Open Spaces Strategy as there will be cross over and joined up thinking across locations and themes.
During 2023/24 and 2024/25, the UKSPF will fund a competitive community grants scheme for voluntary and community groups to encourage greater participation in outdoor activities in the city's parks and green spaces as well as a programme of improvements to green spaces within the city commissioned by the Council's Parks Service.
Tree Strategy 2022 - 2037
A tree strategy is being developed to establish how the Council's tree stock will be maintained and developed over a 15-year period. The strategy will consider maintenance issues such as Ash Dieback and enhancements to assist meeting the Councils pledge to be carbon neutral by 2030. It is anticipated that the final version of the strategy will be available for adoption in Spring 2023.
A UKSPF funded community tree planting programme delivered during 2023/24 and 2024/25 will increase tree and woodland cover in the city. This will improve biodiversity and contribute to the delivery of Preston's net zero commitments whist strengthening a sense of community and improving health and wellbeing though participation in outdoor activities.
Levelling Up Fund - 'Active Preston: Transforming our Community Infrastructure'
The Council has been successful with its £20m Levelling Up Fund bid to government, which will lever in an additional £4m of investment, resulting in a total financial package of £24m.
The bid called Active Preston: Transforming our Community Infrastructure includes the development and refurbishment of 4 major open spaces. The proposals include the delivery of new, high quality and more accessible community sports facilities and pitches, pavilions, public realm and safety and infrastructure improvements to key heritage buildings.
The major redesign and renewal of the 32ha park, a new community sports hub and sports pavilion, 3G sports pitch and several adult and junior football pitches, with associated landscaping.
Moor Park (Grade II* listed)
Heritage and public realm improvement works including lake restoration, bridge works and new phase 2 visitor facilities (phase 1 funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund (HLF).
A range of sports, visitor and community facilities and access improvements.
Accessibility and lighting improvements to support the re-opening of a building to support community use.
The proposals also include investment in new and enhanced works to improve the active travel infrastructure in the city:
- A new cycle/footbridge over the River Ribble to replace the Old Tram Bridge
- New cycle paths and walkways making them greener and safer and more user friendly - this includes segregated routes along Queen Street and Avenham Lane
- Major public realm works at Friargate South
- A new mobility hub to provide a secure cycling facility at Preston bus station
The Rugby League World Cup (RLWC) 2021
Preston successfully hosted the Wales men's RLWC team ahead of and during this year's tournament.
The build up to this included three trophy tours around the City featuring visits to UCLan sports arena, UCLan square, Preston Market and Arch Bishop Temple high school who now have a boys and girls rugby league offering.
The business breakfast at Preston Marriott on 28 September, supported by North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, was well attended with over 100 registrations. Feedback from RLWC was that it was one of the best they had hosted with lots of interest and involvement from local businesses, raising the profile of rugby league in the City and Preston as a destination.
Jody Cunningham and James Simpson spoke at the event and both made the first team for England in the women's and wheelchair events. An inspiring morning.
The civic reception on 11 October was a fabulous occasion with BBC sports correspondent Richard Askam hosting the event, some fabulous speakers from RLWC including the coach, captain and players. Footage from the event including the vocals from amazing quartet featured on BBC1 ahead of Wales opening game against Tonga. Feedback from the team was that they were quite overwhelmed by their welcome to Preston and thoroughly enjoyed this special night.
As the games kicked off complimentary tickets were allocated to sports clubs and community groups, school children and to those who promote and support sport in the City.
Working with PNE rugby league development officer tickets were provided to 184 school children including some from Newman and Preston colleges. Children from St Joseph's and St Andrews made it on to the pitch at Leigh Sports village as a guard of honour for the Wales team. Tickets were also given to Sports Awards winners following the event at Preston Town Hall on 26 September. These tickets were offered to Typhoons RLFC, Christ the King High School, St Andrew's Primary school and individual winners Lucas Charnley and Tomas Woods. Tomas is a UK champion in wheelchair motocross and tickets were given to Tomas and his parents to attend the RLWC wheelchair final.
A RLWC ticket and merchandise giveaway was hosted by the Council during October, again to promote the sport and what Preston can offer in terms of these large-scale events. There were approximately 150 entrants.
Other tickets were taken up by Sahara, Disability Equality NW, Fishwick Rangers and Preston Sports Forum and UCLan allocated their share to students. A mammoth task but the intention was to get people to the games that would not normally have such an opportunity, and I think this was successfully achieved.
The Wales team were so well looked after that as they left, Papa New Guinea men's team stayed and trained in Preston ahead of their quarter-final against England. The team were really impressed with the facilities on offer.
Overall, a hugely successful event and a great opportunity to showcase Preston.
Preston Guild Hall
The Guild Hall is a significant City centre landmark and the Council continues working to achieve a positive outcome for it.
Working in partnership
- Preston Partnership - independent, private-sector led organisation for bringing together people from all sectors who are passionate about the City.
- City of Preston Town Fund Board - sub-group of the Preston Partnership established to oversee the preparation and implementation of the City Investment Plan and Towns Fund bid/grant.
- Preston Place Based Partnership Board - a board of senior officers and Members from Preston City Council, Lancashire County Council and UCLan to be established in the first quarter of 2023 with a remit to guide regeneration and housing growth within the city regeneration priority areas and to help to deliver the wider City Investment Plan priorities.
- UCLAN Campus - a Preston City Council, Lancashire County Council and UCLAN partnership working together to regenerate and improve the campus and surrounding area.
- City Deal Executive and Stewardship Board - a board with representation from Preston City Council, Lancashire County Council and South Ribble Borough Council which governs investment of the City Deal money.
- Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) - collaboration of leaders from business, universities and local councils, who direct economic growth and drive job creation.
- Winckley Square Community Interest Company - a not for profit organisation established in 2011 to help drive the revival of Preston's historic Winckley Square
- Shadow Lancashire Combined Authority (LCA) - focused around key themes such as Prosperous Lancashire, Connected Lancashire, Skilled Lancashire, Better Homes for Lancashire, Joined up Public Services for Lancashire
- Key Cities - the Council is a founder member of the Key Cities Group
- Cultural Framework - with our creative partners in the City we have established a Cultural Framework Board. The board is leading on the cultural vision for the City linking to our broader place making agenda.
What impact are we making?
During 2023/24 and beyond we are making a significant impact in the City working alongside our partners:
- Working alongside the Towns Fund Board, the City Council has produced the City Investment Plan setting out the challenges ahead and the way in which we want to achieve socially and economically inclusive regeneration and green sustainable development of the City over the next 14 years. The City Investment Plan underpins the £20m Towns Fund grant that helps secure the delivery of £200m worth of new inclusive development in the city centre to help deliver improved connections through the Harris Quarter and a vastly improved leisure and cultural offer in addition to enhancing the education, training and employment prospects for our residents. Detailed business cases and summary documents for each of the Towns Fund projects have now been approved with projects being delivered from late 2022 onwards.
- Despite the challenges to the leisure industry created by the Covid pandemic, the Council has made remarkable progress on the delivery of the Animate Cinema and Leisure scheme with the Development and Funding Agreement (DFA) having been signed with Maple Grove Developments, the first anchor tenants, Hollywood Bowl and The Arc Cinema, have been signed up. Significant progress has also been made with the restaurant tenants and work started on site January 2023. In addition to the physical regeneration of this part of the city, it is hoped that the Animate scheme will increase footfall and general city centre usage/dwell time delivering linked benefits to existing businesses. The Animate scheme, alongside other regeneration interventions should help to boost the city's profile further as a place to live, work and visit.
- Utilising grant money under the Transforming Cities Fund, the £15m Transforming Friargate North and Ring Way public realm improvements is now underway. The project aims to significantly improve the public realm and environment for those moving around this part of the city by foot and/or bicycle, whilst not detrimentally impacting on the importance of the Ringway corridor as a vehicular connection across the city. A planning application has now been submitted to Lancashire County Council for the £25m Cottam Parkway Railway Station located immediately west of Lea Road and accessed from the Cottam Link Road. It is hoped that the new railway station will provide further sustainable transport options for the thousands of new residents in the north and western areas of the city reducing the need to travel into the city by car thereby helping to reduce congestion and carbon emissions.
- Working alongside Homes England and other major stakeholders, the Council is helping to facilitate the redevelopment and regeneration of a number of key residential sites in the Stoneygate area. The aim is to deliver, new affordable housing in a welcoming 'urban village' environment close to the city centre.
- The grant funding from the Heritage Lottery and Towns Funds for the Harris Your Place project has been confirmed and work started on site in late 2021. The project will make the Harris, the UK's first blended museum, art gallery and library and will revolutionise the cultural offer of this key city centre asset and bring the facilities available into the twenty first century. It is intended that the Harris will become more accessible to a wider population.
- At UCLan the Student Centre, new public square and highway were completed during 2021, marking a significant milestone in the delivery of the university's £200m masterplan. As well as the physical regeneration of this part of the city, the works will help to transform the student experience as well as increasing the attractiveness of pedestrian movement into the city centre.
- Work on the Preston Western Distributor Road is progressing on schedule and due to be completed by 2023. The new road will significantly ease traffic congestion on the existing road network in the north of Preston, improve accessibility and facilitate future growth to the west of Preston.
- A strategic regeneration framework for the Station Quarter has been drafted and consulted upon working in partnership with Lancashire County Council and UCLan. It is envisaged that this work will help to foster a broader place-based partnership approach to regeneration across the city, and specifically help to deliver transformational regeneration to land around the railway station offering new and improved job opportunities for local people and building on the significant job investment in the area and to facilitate housing led regeneration within Stoneygate.