Cafe, conference centre or events space: See the 5 ideas on how to transform Preston's Grade II-listred Harris Institute

New ideas for one of Preston’s most iconic buildings are going on display next week.

The Grade II* listed Harris Institute Building, which is on Historic England’s At Risk Register has been empty for almost a decade, but has been bought by The Harris Investment Group Ltd.

The Group has committed to giving the building a “transformative renovation” to breathe new life into the heart of the city, and has developed a number of potential ideas for the site.

They include a café, exhibition space, co working and space for conference / talks and events, all subject to a bid for funding and a formal Planning Application and Listed Building Consent.

The project team are holding a drop in session on Wednesday, November 8 between 1-4pm at the Harris Institute to talk to local residents about an initial vision for the redevelopment of the building and seek feedback.

Speaking about the event John Bridge, the architect for the scheme said: “This is an exciting moment for Preston, as we work together to rejuvenate this historic gem. The Harris Institute Building will continue to stand as a symbol of our rich heritage, and we want to work closely with the Preston community to develop a vision for the building that aligns with local aspirations. We know how important this historic asset is to Prestonians.”


The Grade II* listed institute was originally opened in 1849 and was later funded by benefactor Edmund Robert Harris who stipulated that it should be used for educational purposes.

Its original title was the Preston Institution for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. In recent years it became the Harris School of Art and then the Darul Aloom Islamic Institution.

In recent years it has been left empty, and earlier this year was raided by police after being used as a drugs factory.

See the artist’s impressions on how it could look, below.

Related topics: