Mystery as community centre vanishes from plans to replace Preston’s iconic football pub

A planned community centre has suddenly vanished from a project to redevelop the site of the former Sumners Pub in Preston.

By Brian Ellis
Monday, 27th June 2022, 4:55 am

The scheme to build two blocks of apartments, together with a social centre and two shop units, has been replaced this week by a new blueprint which is now just residential only.

Agents on behalf of the site's unnamed owners say the centre and two "flexible use" units have been removed from the original drawings and replaced by more flats.

A new planning application to the council says the community centre has been taken out of the scheme on the corner of Sir Tom Finney Way and Watling Street Road because "the occupier has found an alternative location in Fulwood." But the Post has been unable to discover what that location is.

Plans for the site of the old Sumners pub no longer include a community centre.

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The inclusion of a venue for community use was thought to have been a major factor in the granting of planning permission for the Sumners scheme in May 2020.

It now remains to be seen if the revised project for just 90 apartments in two multi-storey blocks will have a similarly smooth passage through the planning process without it.

The latest plans are the third instalment in the story about what will replace the once-popular "football pub" where supporters of nearby Preston North End used to gather on matchdays.

The iconic Sumners Hotel was a big favourite with PNE fans.

An original application for 65 flats and a community centre was withdrawn in June 2019. It was replaced by a second scheme for 77 apartments and a community centre which was approved by the council's chief executive in May 2020 under emergency powers during the Covid pandemic.

Now that has been swapped for a residential-only 90 apartment plan.

None of the flats will be affordable homes despite council rules that 30 per cent should offered below market rates.

In the plans approved in 2020 the owners argued the project would be financially unviable if it had to offer almost a third as cut-price apartments. That argument was supported by an independent consultant who agreed it would prove unworkable.

Instead the developers were asked to accept a Section 106 agreement which would have meant making a contribution of more than £320,000 towards 14 secondary school places. That may now increase due to the planned rise in the number of flats from 77 to 90.

The development now being proposed is for two 4/5 storey blocks totalling 46 one-bedroom apartments and 44 two-bed.

Block One, on the site of the old pub facing the busy road junction, is planned to include 34 flats over four floors.

Block Two, at the back of the site, will be L-shaped with one wing having 27 flats and the other - designated an 'elders block' - comprising 29. The scheme will provide parking for a total of 92 vehicles.

The Sumners, which replaced a previous pub of the same name, was built in 1985 and called last orders in the summer of 2018 due to a decline in trade.

It stood adjacent to the site of an original alehouse called the Prince Albert Inn which was built in 1848 on land opposite Fulwood Army Barracks and close to another pub, the Royal Garrison.

The Prince Albert changed its name to the Sumners Hotel to honour George Sumner who was landlord from 1860 to 1897.