A multi-million pound development planned by university bosses will have a massive impact on the city and the rest of the region.
Proposals drawn up by the University of Central Lancashire include far-reaching re-development plans to create a more unified campus to benefit the city.
Vice-chancellor Gerry Kelleher and his team want to see UCLan integrated into the city, providing a world class campus befitting it’s stnading as the sixth largest university in the country.
UCLan, with 36,000 scholars, is also one of the nation’s fastest growing higher education institutions.
He said: “Over the coming decade we will invest in the region of £200 million to create a world-class campus environment which blends new facilities with the creation of public, green spaces to encourage people from all over the City to visit and enjoy the campus.”
The 10-year vision will affect current and future generations of students and staff as well as residents, traders and visitors.
It includes a new road network, parking, landscaping and new buildings. Cycle routes and open spaces will also will be created.
Under the plans, which have been drawn up in conjunction with Lancashire County and Preston City councils, the whole area around the main campus will be totally transformed.
The Fylde Building will be demolished and the library at the back will be extended to cope with growing demand from the university’s 36,000 scholars.
This will see the Adelphi area off Corporation Street and Friargate totally redrawn, with the road system re-vamped and the current roundabout replaced with an icon gateway to the university.
Key to this will be the creation of a new public pedestrianised square – twice the size of the current city centre Flag Market.
The first stage of the project will start next year, subject to planning approval, with the construction of the £30 million-plus Engineering Innovation Centre (EIC).
The idea is to build this vital new resource fronting the new square and is hoped the project to spark a major focus on regeneration and business investment in the university quarter.
Prof Kelleher added: “Developing a skilled workforce which meets local, national and international needs is central to our development plans. Future investments like the Engineering Innovation Centre will reflect that goal.”
He said the vision for the future of the university was shared and supported by project partners Preston City Council and Lancashire County Council, whose response to the proposals had been “fantastic”.
The vice-chancellor added: “We also want to listen to and work with our neighbours and all the community, to ensure the city and region benefit from the tremendous cultural and economic opportunities that our plan will create.”
Coun Jennifer Mein, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “The university’s plans reflect the county council’s vision for an attractive, well-connected and walkable city, which is easy to get around using all modes of transport.”
Preston City Council leader Coun Peter Rankin added: “This is a significant development in the continuing success story of the university. A successful university is crucial for Preston.”
The project has already won the support of local businesses and Babs Murphy, chief executive of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said: “The economic role played by an expanded and strengthened university will aid our regeneration efforts by bolstering the local economy and underpinning long-term sustainable economic growth.”
The city’s MP Mark Hendrick also applauded the vision describing the plans as “both bold and imaginative”.
He added: “I would urge my constituents to take part in the public consultation process and help shape this redevelopment.”