French cuisine may be on the menu at historic Preston church
A high-end restaurant chain could soon be opening in one of Preston's empty landmark buildings.
Bistrot Pierre, which specialises in French cuisine, has expressed an interest in the former Fishergate Baptist Church, opposite Primark.
But the move depends on gaining permission to transform the Grade II-listed building to a restaurant and bar. Although plans were approved by Preston Council late last year, a slightly altered version has now been lodged.
The new design and access statement now makes no mention of installing a mezzanine floor, instead development is focused on three areas - the basement, ground level and external rear wall, which is to be opened up to create an outdoor seating area.
The external approach to the church from Fishergate would largely remain unchanged, apart from a decking area and glazed inserts into arches.
A design and access report states: “We are not seeking to present a false history, consequently the proposed interventions will be distinct and obviously new.”
Roger Parker, agent for the applicant, Paul Rowley, said Bistrot Pierre prefer “distinctive” buildings, “making eating in their restaurants not only a wonderful culinary experience but also an event. Almost theatre.”
He added: “The proposed alterations to the building are wonderful. The architects decided that the former church needed connectivity with the outside and hence the terrace and seating at the front. There will also be an opening created in the rear elevation leading to a shallow terrace which will create a view towards the university and allow light to flood into the building.
“The interior will be on a grand scale. Gothic yet light and airy. A place to see and be seen.”
Bistrot Pierre was founded in 1994 by Robert Beacham and John Whitehead. It has recently been expanding the number of restaurants in the north west, with a branch due to open in Lord Street, Southport.
Robert said: “Preston has been on our radar for a while and subject to it being approved we are really looking forward to opening there.”
Church ‘of special interest’
Christians started meeting together as a Baptist Congregation in Preston in 1783 .
They used this building in the main street of the city from 1858, when it was built by James Hibbert.
The Church is currently disused following its closure in 2011, due to a diminishing congregation and increasing maintenance costs.
The church was designated a Grade II listed building on January 29, 1986, as being “nationally important and of special interest”.
The basement – removal of modern partitions and erection of new partitions to facilitate the provision of a kitchen, stores, ancillary areas, staff facilities, toilets and cellar.
New extraction ducts will be fitted and the decayed floor will be replaced.
Ground Level - removal of the modern lobby structure and formation of new openings in the floor to facilitate a new staircase linking to the basement. The ground floor will need to be structurally improved with new beams.
Rear - Some of the external rear wall be opened up to a outdoor seating area.
The church organ is to be “rehomed”.