£100m building is game-changer for Preston city centre

Around 3,000 jobs could be created if a vision for a 'breathtaking' huge new office development in Preston becomes reality.

Thursday, 18th May 2017, 7:00 am
Updated Sunday, 4th June 2017, 9:15 pm
Image of the proposed Altus building, looking at the junction of Ringway and Corporation Street

Altus, a £100m, eight-storey building with retail and leisure opportunities on the ground floor, is earmarked for land on the junction of Corporation Street and Ringway, currently occupied by Office Outlet, the former Wynsors World of Shoes shop and Hill Street car park.

“It will be a game-changer,” declared Roger Parker, who is the agent for the scheme.

“It will mean 3,000 white- collar workers working in Preston, who will be spending money in city shops and who will hopefully want to live in the city centre.”

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Offering a total of 343,737 sq ft of accommodation and 178 car parking spaces, the aim is to target big businesses and organisations, which will help kick-start City Living drive of encouraging people to live and work in the city centre.

Agent Roger Parker, of Parker and Company, said: “Its stature and size will have an awesome impact in a very important position within the city centre.”

He added: “If you look around Preston city centre, most of the office stock is from the 1960s and 70s.

“Fifty years on, these offices are obsolete. They were never high-quality, they have low ceiling heights so it’s difficult to get things like air conditioning in, and businesses need bigger flat plates.

“You can’t put new wine into old bottles. We need something top quality for the city centre, and that’s what Altus will offer.

“We want to make people sit up and notice Preston. When they are looking at where to open an office, we want them to look at this instead of somewhere like Manchester or Warrington.

“The rent will probably be two-thirds cheaper than Manchester and the labour will too.”

The design of the building, on a major gateway to the city and close to the railway station, has been completed by Preston-based architect David Cox.

He worked for many years on the reconstruction of Berlin.

Inquiries are being invited for suites from 3,750sq ft to the whole building.

Mr Parker believes the development will take between five and 15 years to come to fruition, and although there is support from local authorities, it still requires planning permission.

A spokesman for Preston Council said the scheme was born of a result of talks between officers and the private landowner a couple of years ago, “when it was realised that both parties’ development aspirations would be enhanced through a joint marketing approach.

The spokesman added: “The site is particularly well-placed in relation to both the railway station and the university which, together with the Ringway frontage, gives it significant redevelopment potential.

“Providing Grade A office space across this site would make a major statement about the city’s ambitions and catalyse further development in this area.

“As one of the many current investment opportunities in the city centre we expect interest to grow once other planned developments in the area start to come to fruition.​“

The council declined to comment on plans revealed in 2012 for the Hill Street car park site to be turned into a £5m 30,000-40,000 sq ft office block.

At the time it was confirmed that the Greater Manchester Pension Fund had signed a deal for the land, which was gifted by the city council in a drive for it to act as a catalyst for a new ‘office quarter’.

Property Group GVA Grimley were named as managers of the development, engineering firm GTMS was to be the project manager, and work was expected to begin in 2013.

But the development never took place, believed to be as a result of the economic climate and due to the size of the offering.