First pictures of planned Preston apartment block - and details of who might be staying there

A planned apartment block on the outskirts of Preston city centre will provide accommodation for visiting professionals, it has been revealed.

Wednesday, 4th March 2020, 7:15 pm
Updated Thursday, 5th March 2020, 12:12 am

Guest university lecturers and those on short secondments to some of the area’s biggest employers will be the target customers for the operators of the new facility on North Road. The 121 rooms in the mixed three to five-storey-high block will be available for a maximum of 90 consecutive days.

The details emerged at a meeting of Preston City Council’s planning committee which gave the green light to the development, to the rear of the Moorbrook Inn and its now disused neighbour, The Unicorn.

The latter venue called time on its 200 years in the city back on 2017, but the building will be brought back into use under the plans.- with accommodation on the first floor and communal facilities to be shared with the nearby Canterbury Hall student residence at ground level.

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The block as viewed from North Road heading away from the city centre (image courtesy of David Cox Architects)

Architects have also pledged that the historic Grade II-listed hostelry will not be overshadowed by its new backdrop - and will have its most historically interesting features preserved.

“You’ll notice very little change to the Unicorn itself,” explained David Cox from the agent fir the site, David Cox Architects.

“The entrance is set back between the two pubs, creating a bit of a new urban square - tidying up what is at the moment a rather scruffy and undeveloped piece of waste land.

“The view from Garstang Road hopefully shows how modest the entrance is and how it’s designed to compliment the street scene.

How the apartments will look, sitting in between the disused Unicorn pub and the still-trading Moorbrook Inn (image courtesy of David Cox Architects)

“The cellar has still got some quite nice features in it - we did initially want to use that for a coffee shop, but now the plan is to leave the lower ground floor pretty much untouched,” Mr Cox added.

On the ground floor, a lobby containing “large iron hooks” on the wall will be retained - while a “formal archaeological watching brief” will be kept during excavation of the east of the site, where the most significant buried remains would be expected to be found.

Committee member Susan Whittam described the proposal as “a lovely scheme”.

The applicant, HMV North Limited, increased the number of cycle spaces to be available at the block from 18 to 40 after concerns were raised by highways bosses at Lancashire County Council. But the company did not agree to make a financial contribution towards upgrading cycling facilities between the development and the city centre - and County Hall did not consider the issue one which merited them objecting to the overall scheme.

It also emerged at the meeting that there are longer-term plans for a leisure facility in the former B&Q building at the rear of the site - which is currently a warehouse for the homelessness charity Emmaus. Mr. Cox described it as “the next piece in the jigsaw” for the development of the wider plot.

Responding to that prospect, Emmaus Preston director Stephen Buchanan told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that the charity knew its time at the site was limited - but for now it was “business as usual”.

“We’re fully on board and realise that at some point, we’ll have to move out. But nothing is changing for now and we don’t expect it to for the next couple of years,” said Mr. Buchanan.