An eyesore spot on one of Preston’s busiest streets is to be handed a multi-million pound makeover.
A property developer has unveiled plans to build a huge block of student flats on a block of derelict shops on the corner of Friargate and Great Shaw Street, close to the city’s student village.
It wants to build a pair of modern shop units which could house a new supermarket with student flats on top following the demolition of the eyesore buildings.
Behind it, on the site of the former VIP Cabs building on Great Shaw Street it plans to build a seven-storey block of 261 student flats.
In its application, Anthony Jackson, of developer Portergate Properties (Preston), said the development will not only swallow up derelict for body piercing shops but also take in the current Popadom Palace takeaway and the former Bambers Furniture shop.
The multi-million pound plans revive hopes of breathing new life into the area which appeared to have slipped away when the developer behind the scheme, Point Developments, collapsed into administration in 2009 - just months after gaining permission.
Today, traders on Friargate welcomed news of the redevelopment plans.
Restaurateur Russell Lee, who runs Fusion Room, said he would welcome other eateries opening on the street.
He said: “What Friargate needs is more footfall, we need something which is going to bring people here, and I would welcome more high-quality restaurants and bars down here even if it is competition.
“If you go to somewhere like Manchester, you will see entire streets filled with bars and restaurants, and that is what we need on Friargate.
“But, if the plan is to bring retail, it needs to be high quality stuff which is going to bring people here throughout the day.”
Margaret Mason, whose floristry business has traded on the street for 50 years, said: “The Tesco supermarket (in the former Bello restaurant) has livened this end of Friargate up and anything is better than an empty shop.
“If we can get more people coming down this end, it makes everyone feel better and brings a bit more of a buzz to the place.
“I welcome any kind of investment into this end of Preston.”
In January 2009, Point Developments secured outline planning permission to build 32 student flats with 165 bedrooms, 11 student studio flats and a shop unit on the site.
The company collapsed into administration nearly four years ago and had been in the hands of administrators for Point Developments, Begbies Traynors, which were appointed by the developers lender, Yorkshire Bank.
Last year, they instructed an architects to renew the planning permission on the site which was approved by the city council.
It is understood Portergate has now bought the entire site and now submitted a new application to take in extra shop fronts down Friargate.
In its application, Portergate said they would be “broadly similar” to those of the renewal application by Begbies last year.
It added: “The proposals are the culmination of many months work, and the design principles established, have been developed in dialogue with the planning officers at Preston City Council, and following that extensive negotiation, we understand (Preston Council) is supportive of the proposals put forward.”