Fishergate's £40m revamp could face rejection

How Fishergate Shopping Centre could look

How Fishergate Shopping Centre could look

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A major project to regenerate Fishergate Shopping Centre, costing £40m, could be in doubt because a council plan is not yet ready.

The plans would see the redundant TJ Hughes store replaced with six shop units, a new mall linking to a feature entrance from the car park, and five restaurants.

Fishergate Shopping Centre owner, Benson Elliot, will invest £25m in the site and it says it would create 250 more jobs as well as a boost in rates payments of about £600,000.

But the plans could be in jeopardy. At the end of a 44-page document detailing the technical notes of the development it reveals the scheme, which sees £15 million invested by occupiers such as Primark, TK Maxx and Vue, is likely to be recommended for refusal.

The document, produced by the applicants, states there is no objection to the principle of the development but does say the plan is premature to the emerging city centre plan. Because of this it then states: "The officer recommendation will be refusal on the single ground of prematurity in light of the forthcoming city centre plan examination".

Planning consultants DP9 is believed to have addressed the issued raised and is confident the plans comply fully with current planning policy.

A Preston City Council spokesman said: "No official recommendation has been made and it will be for councillors on the planning committee to decide on the scheme on merit at the next meeting."

It is predicted the site, if approved, would employ more than 150 construction workers during the building programme, with work beginning immediately with the hope it could open early next year.

Figures released by Benson Elliot say the 250 extra staff will join the 750 local workers already employed at the centre.

And leaders say the new-look centre will have bigger and better shops, a restaurant and food cluster and a new cinema.