Preston's 'ugliest' tower block set for a facelift - but will it look any prettier?

A controversial tower block, once voted Preston’s ugliest building, is to get a facelift.

By Brian Ellis
Thursday, 15th April 2021, 7:00 am

But Crystal House, built on the site of the old Town Hall is unlikely to look much prettier when its cladding has been replaced to improve fire safety.

The 12-storey construction has become the second high-rise block in the city centre in recent months to apply for permission to replace its cladding in the wake of the Grenfell Disaster.

Owners HVM (Crystal House) Ltd want to take off all the existing cladding panels and insulation and replace them with more modern materials “to ensure the fire safety of the site.”

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Crystal House is Preston's least-loved city centre building.

But in a planning statement the company says the new cladding will look almost identical to the old and there will be little change to the appearance of the building.

Crystal House has been widely condemned as a huge “eyesore” and “an architectural outrage” since it was built in 1964.

It replaced the former Town Hall which was a much-cherished Gothic gem designed by the famous architect Sir George Gilbert Scott. It was gutted by fire in March 1947.

A few years ago Prestonians voted Crystal House as their favourite building to be demolished.

Beauty and the Beast - the Harris Museum next door to Crystal House.

It was designed for shops and offices, but more recently the upper floors have been converted to 48 apartments.

The cost of building Crystal House in the sixties was just £500,000. In 2017 it changed hands for five times that.

Owners of the seven-storey Premier Inn at the junction of Ringway and Fox Street recently applied to have their hotel re-clad even though it was only built in 2010.

Crystal House replaced Preston's much-loved Town Hall which burned down in March 1947.