A boom in city centre living has seen buyers scrambling for luxury apartments in Preston - even before they are built.
Flats in two huge office block conversions on Winckley Square have been selling like hot cakes ahead of contractors moving in.
Former Lancashire County Council buildings Guild House and Winckley House have only just received multi-million pound funding for refurbishment. Yet all 46 apartments planned for Guild House have been snapped up, as have 34 of the 76 being created in Winckley House.
The news follows an announcement by Amicus Property Finance that it has agreed a deal with Manchester-based developers Ladson Group to fund the purchase of the two 1960s properties from LCC.
“With this funding in place we are excited about the future of these two buildings,” said Guy Ladson.
The buildings, put on the market by County Hall last year as part of a giant fire sale to save £200m, are just two of a host of luxury flat conversion projects underway to satisfy a hunger for “high end” homes in the city centre.
The city centre is full of opportunities for investors and the council and its partners are committed to delivering a step change in our residential offer, complementing the environmental improvements on Fishergate and within the Winckley Square conservation area.
At least a dozen buildings are being targeted by developers eager to cash in on the “City Living” bonanza which has seen huge redevelopment in Manchester and Liverpool and is now gripping the North West’s third largest metropolis.
Preston launched its prospectus in April this year with the council looking to attract investment into residential projects in the central area.
“The sale of the majority of apartments in the soon-to-be redeveloped Winckley House is great news for Preston,” said Chris Hayward, director of development at the city council.
“This fully supports the City Living vision for Preston which was launched earlier this year and highlights the appetite for city centre living to other potential investors.
“As well as bringing the building back into use, this will also hugely benefit the local economy.
“The city centre is full of opportunities for investors and the council and its partners are committed to delivering a step change in our residential offer, complementing the environmental improvements on Fishergate and within the Winckley Square conservation area.”
Projects already in the planning stage will create more than 300 apartments around the heart of the city, with others expected to follow suit when suitable buildings become available.
Add to that the thousands of student flats being created to serve the demands of the University of Central Lancashire and Preston city centre is definitely on the up.
Guild House and Winckley House were two of three central office blocks off-loaded by LCC to help meet cuts being demanded by central government.
The other, 58-60 Guildhall Street, is also being earmarked for apartments, with Cheshire-based William Construction having recently applied for a change of use to provide 35 self-contained flats.
Preston, with its excellent transport links, is being seen as the next boom city for property developers, with plenty of large Victorian and Georgian properties available for the same price as a two-bed apartment in Manchester. At present there are an estimated 8,000 people living in the city centre. The council is hoping to boost that figure, with the spin-off benefits an increase in population will bring to businesses.
Speaking about the deal to fund the purchase of Guild House and Winckley House, Yasin Patel, divisional director of Amicus Property Finance said: “We are delighted to have provided funding for these two sites which would have no doubt become more and more run-down without the vision of Guy Ladson at Ladson Group.
“We continue to look to fund works required to turn around historical properties which bring buildings back to life and make the surrounding areas much more appealing.”