Major developers are considering investing in a new city office district, a city leader has revealed.
The Greater Manchester Pension Fund has become the first developer to invest in Preston’s Central Business District, after signing a deal for a £5m office block on the Hill Street car park.
It has appointed an architect to draw up plans for a ‘landmark building’ which will be the first new development between the university campus and the city’s train station.
Preston Councillor Martyn Rawlinson, who is cabinet member for resources, claimed other developers have approached the council with ideas for developments.
He said: “There are other investors and developers around interested in the ideas we have but there is nothing as concrete as that (Hill Street development).”
The Central Business District was established by creating favourable planning laws to encourage office developments throughout the area.
Coun Rawlinson claimed once the Hill Street development was underway, it would encourage landlords to improve existing buildings.
He said: “There are some buildings in that area that really need upgrading.
“We really need the Greater Manchester Pension Fund to make a start and then when people see there is interest and it is worth doing.”
Meanwhile Preston’s protracted £700m Tithebarn development collapsed last November and Coun Rawlinson admitted retail was not currently a ‘priority’ for the city’s redevelopment.
He added: “I think retail is on the back burner at the moment but things can change very quickly.
“We have the land and we have the ideas, it is up to the developers to rise to it, but nobody is spending at the moment.”
On Saturday the Evening Post reported Preston Council had spent £1.5m on outside consultants, including £250,000 on schemes which never happened.
Preston Council spent £154,180.90 to Drivers Jonas Deloitte and £27,500 to Benoy for the doomed Tithebarn scheme.
They also paid fees of £110,159 to Landscape Projects for schemes including the failed Flag Market revamp plans which included seven 50ft electric banners branded ‘tacky’ when unveiled.
It spent £73,020 to Turner and Townsend Project Management for the Harris Museum ‘Guild Gallery Project’.