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Preston lamb

Securing investment; improving assets and infrastructure; attracting high quality jobs; creating a city with a strong cultural and leisure offer.

You can download a full copy of the Icon for pdf Achieving Preston's Priorities (APP) 2022/23 [2.5MB] document here.

What actions are we taking?

Culture and Leisure

Harris Quarter

Events have slowly started to return to the City across the summer including:

The Encounter Festival has returned in September 2021 with an expanded Brief Encounter programme running across three weekends in order to manage audience numbers and build consumer confidence out of Covid.

Attendance and engagement has been strong so far demonstrating the appetite from the public for cultural activity to return.

The final weekend of the festival featured the Mayor's Thank You Parade to acknowledge and thank key workers for their efforts across the past 18 months.

Something's Brewing - the new 12-year Cultural Strategy has been completed and shared with the sector in September ahead of a formal launch later in 2021.

The strategy identifies key priority areas to shape the vision and approach to culture in the city, accompanied by a dynamic action plan led by the Cultural Framework Board and reviewed on an annual basis.

Looking ahead to 2022 the aim is to return the full event programme to the City, starting with Egg Rolling on Easter Monday and positioning this Preston tradition as an Easter festival for Lancashire to attract visitors from across the County.

A full summer programme will animate key spaces in the City from the Flag Market to Winckley Square to the Bus Station, alongside the launch of the new Mobile Event Tent (MET) featuring a programme of community and creative sector led events and activities.

Encounter festival returns in full in September with a torchlight procession and weekend packed with events attracting visitors from near and far.

The Cultural Framework Board with its reinvigorated membership will lead the delivery of the Something's Brewing Cultural Strategy with sub groups set up to lead on each priority area and progress monitored and evaluated by the board.

Re-imagining the Harris

The Project team and the Council team have been progressing RIBA stage 4 designs for completion by the end of 2021.

Procurement for the main contractor, evaluation services and decant have been completed and contracts awarded.

The Towns Fund Business Case has been developed and approved. Further funding applications have been developed to extend the scope of works to include gallery works on the second floor and further external works.

The Harris closed to the public on 2 October 2021 and decant has started with the internal team.

Harris home from home has moved into the Guild Hall Arcade in October offering the lending library, public computers, activity space and pop-up shop. During the closure, a series of Harris activity will be delivered with partners across the City to retain engagement with current audiences and build new audiences, taking the Harris on tour.

The building will be emptied by April 2022 and be handed over to the main contractors in May 2022 when construction work will commence. Care of collections, maintaining the library and IT service and delivering a full activity programme will occupy 2022-23.

Preston City Investment Plan and Town Deal Bid

In March 2021 Preston was awarded £19.9m Towns Fund grant which was accepted by the Towns Fund Board and the Council acting as accountable body.

The 6 supported projects are:

  1. Harris Your Place (Re-Imagining the Harris)
  2. Animate (Cinema and Leisure Scheme)
  3. Preston Youth Zone
  4. Illuminate and integrate (Public realm and lighting enhancement within the Harris Quarter)
  5. Renewal of Harris Quarter Assets (Refurbishment and re-use of PCC-owned buildings)
  6. CEIAG (Careers, Employment Information Advice and Guidance)

Detailed business cases for each of the projects have been prepared and are being assessed with a view to projects being delivered from 2022 onwards.

The Harris Your Place business case has been approved and signed off by the Towns Fund Board and the Council, acting as accountable body, approved the Towns Fund grant allocation in December 2021.

To deliver the projects the Council, acting as both accountable body for whole programme and as project deliverer for 4 of the 6 projects, has set up governance structures, monitoring and evaluation strategies, project and programme management and multi-disciplinary project teams, all of which are now active and working intensively on the Towns Fund programme delivery.

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:

  1. Transform Preston's cultural infrastructure, focusing on our cultural and leisure facilities, spaces and programmes (basis of Town Deal programme).
  2. Supporting Preston's economic recovery, skills, growth and resilience.
  3. Delivering a new commercial district at Preston Station Quarter.
  4. Deliver a groundbreaking approach to community health and well-being in the city.
  5. Expand and diversify the housing supply to significantly boost city centre living.
  6. Achieve a step change in sustainable movement and accessibility in the city by delivering Preston's Transport Plan.

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 new Council-led Invest Preston website

Harris Quarter Pop Ups

Also under the Towns Fund initiative, the government has offered the Council a grant of £1m accelerated funding to be spent in 2021.

The Towns Fund Board elected to put the grant towards kick starting the revitalisation of the Harris Quarter by commissioning a series of projects to attract people back into the city centre in a safe environment.

The 6 Pops Up projects are:

  • MET (Mobile Event Tent) which can be used for live performances, screenings, exhibitions and craft events and can be easily moved to different locations in the City. The MET will be initially sited on the cleared former Indoor Market site to support city centre events activity following the lifting of Covid restrictions. Future locations for the MET have still to be determined.
  • Wallace and Gromit Bench Sculpture - The bench sculpture was unveiled in September 2021 and is proving to be a very popular attraction for the Markets.
  • Animate Hoardings - The 300m of hoardings surrounding the cleared Indoor Market site have been decorated with attractive colourful designs.
  • Public Art Murals - Local artists have been commissioned to create 4 wall murals in locations around the Harris Quarter and wider city centre of which 1 has so far been completed on Bolton's Court off Church Street.
  • Telephone Boxes - The 9 iconic listed telephone boxes alongside the former Post Office on Market Street have been falling into disrepair over recent years. The Council has acquired the boxes to put to creative use forming part of the growing collection of attractions in this part of the City centre, watch this space!
  • Public Realm upgrade - These improvements will now be delivered as part of Illuminate and Integrate, one of the main Towns Fund projects, which will create upgraded spaces and streets.

The Harris Quarter Pops Up projects will be completed in the first half of 2022.

Animate (Harris Quarter Cinema and Leisure Scheme)

The Council signed the Development and Funding Agreement with Maple Grove Developments in November 2021 which was significant milestone in the delivery of this project.

Following this, a revised planning application has been submitted and the first anchor tenant, Hollywood Bowl, has been signed-up.

Further tenants will be announced early in 2022 including the anchor cinema operator.

Construction is expected to start on site during 2022. This key City Centre scheme 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.

The scheme is being 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 of the facilitating works on Corporation Street commenced in late 2021 and a main start on Friargate and Ring Way is expected in early 2022.

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 brought forward as part
of the Illuminate and Integrate Towns Fund project.

Preston Railway Station

A Preston Station Quarter Board has been established and is attended by senior representatives from Preston City Council, Lancashire County Council and UCLan.

The Board has authorised the development of a Masterplan-led regeneration framework centred on the Railway Station designed 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.

A consultant team has been appointed and is working on the regeneration framework which is expected to be consulted upon and completed in early 2022.

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 is due to be submitted in 2022. More details on the project can be viewed at Lancashire County Council - Cottam Parkway railway station.

Winckley Square Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI)

Due to delays caused by the Covid pandemic the Winckley Square THI programme has been extended again to allow an existing scheme that is on-site to be completed and to explore further opportunities for shop front improvements on Cannon Street.

A shopfront scheme on Cannon Street was successfully completed during 2020 and a final one is under construction. The street is seeing further investment through the implementation of residential schemes following the transformational public realm works that were undertaken earlier in the programme.

University of Central Lancashire (UcLan)

Completion of the £60m Student Centre, new public square and the extensive highway remodelling at the front of the main campus are completed and fully open. Together with the Engineering Innovation Centre which opened in 2019, this comprises the completion of the most transformational elements of the £200m UCLan masterplan.

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. Over the last 18 months over 400 new homes have been completed in the inner part of the City (out of a total of 1,121 across the whole borough), approximately 450 are currently under construction and a further 1,500 have planning permission.

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 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.'

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.

Shankly Hotel - the former Post Office

Following acquisition of the grade II listed building from the Council, conversion of the former Post Office into a boutique hotel and conference/wedding venue is ongoing by Signature Living.

When complete the conversion will bring this important heritage asset back to life, enhancing the townscape and wider historic environment.

The hotel and new facilities will complement surrounding uses and boost the local economy.

City Deal and Preston Western Distributor (PWD) Road

Work on the PWD has been underway for over 2 years and good progress continues to be made with  completion still expected in 2023.

Work is 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.

Promoting the City

Opportunities to promote the City during 2021 have been significantly reduced as a result of the Covid pandemic.

Nonetheless, opportunities that have arisen through initiatives such as the City Investment Plan and Towns Fund bid, City Living Preston and Harris Your Place have been made the most of, 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 is anticipated to continue throughout 2022.

Following the progress that the other Towns Fund projects are also making, these too will be central to the promotion of the City throughout 2022.

The unveiling of the Wallace and Gromit bench sculpture received wide media coverage with both regional TV news networks showing regular items on their bulletins and programmes throughout the day.

There were also positive articles in national and international printed media, as well as wide coverage across all social media platforms.

The ongoing restrictions in relation to the pandemic prevented the Preston Partnership resuming its regular programme of events as had been anticipated. These are now planned to resume in 2022 following a consultation exercise in January 2022 which will inform how the partnership develops over the coming months and years.

The Preston Partnership website has been created to promote activity within the City and reinforce its role as an influential ambassador for 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.

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.

Heritage Lottery Funding (HLF) Moor Park

This is currently on hold as we are unable to submit a HLF bid due to the Harris Museum HLF bid being a priority for the City. Once HLF and Council funding are available approval will be sought to take forward a HLF phase 2 bid for Moor Park.

The Rugby League World Cup (RLWC) 2021

The Rugby League World Cup 2021 will now take place between 15 October 2022 - 19 November 2022, but it will still retain 2021 status. Preston will still host the Welsh Dragons as part of the City Host Status and training camp programme.

Preston Guild Hall

The tenant of the Guild Hall, Preston Guild Hall Limited, went into administration in 2019 and the Council took the decision to forfeit the lease.

The decision was taken with the agreement of the appointed Administrator. Following the forfeiture, the Council took steps to seek a suitably qualified and experienced theatre/venue operator who could reinvigorate the closed venue. However, those efforts have been undermined by proceedings being issued against the Council and the company in administration in December 2019 challenging the Council's decision to forfeit the lease, and by the ongoing pandemic.

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 Station Quarter Board - a board of senior officers from Preston City Council, Lancashire County Council and UCLan to oversee the strategic case and delivery of commercial development within the Preston Station Quarter.
  • 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.
  • Preston City Council, Lancashire County Council and UCLAN partnership working together to regenerate and improve the campus and surrounding area

What impact are we making?

Icon for pdf The Achieving Preston's Priorities document [2.5MB] sets out the impact the Council hopes to make in each of its strategic priority areas.

During 2021/22 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 a route map for the development of the City over the next 14 years. The City Investment Plan underpins the £20m Towns Fund grant that help secure the delivery of £200m worth of new development in the city centre.
  • Preston Markets continues to evolve and recent improvements such as the walkway canopies are providing a much-improved local shopping facility. Traders have demonstrated great resilience through the Covid pandemic by maintaining an important source of fresh food for Preston residents.
  • 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 tenant, Hollywood Bowl, signed up and terms agreed with a leading cinema operator, the other anchor tenant. Significant progress has also been made with the restaurant tenants and, subject to the satisfaction of the DFA conditions, work will start on site in mid-2022.
  • Utilising grant money under the Transforming Cities Fund, a start on site has been made on the £15m Transforming Friargate North and Ring Way public realm improvements and public consultation on the £25m Cottam Parkway Railway Station is taking place.
  • City Living Preston has been fully updated and expanded to include 27 residential sites across the city centre and inner Preston with a number of sites now coming forward for development. The updated City Living Prospectus was launched in October 2020.
  • Working alongside Homes England, the Council is helping to facilitate the redevelopment and regeneration of a number of key residential sites in the Stoneygate area.
  • The Heritage Lottery Funded Winckley Square Townscape Heritage Initiative has been extended again to allow further schemes to be completed.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Work on the Preston Western Distributor Road is progressing on schedule in spite of the challenges presented by poor weather and the Covid pandemic and is due to be completed in 2023.

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