The buildings – ranging between seven and 16 storeys high – will replace the surface-level parking plot at the junction of Avenham Street and Syke Street.
The £50m scheme to be known as “PR1” will create 294 properties formed in an ‘N’ shape around a landscaped courtyard area, which will be reserved for residents. Many of the apartments will have balconies.
A large, stepped terrace will also feature on the side of the development fronting Syke Street and Avenham Lane.
Two basement car parks will be installed – with almost the same capacity as the current 217-space parking facility on the site – and will be open both to occupants to purchase a space and also the general public.
The project won unanimous support – and praise – from Preston City Council’s planning committee, with members lining to up to champion the concept.
Cllr David Borrow said that the striking scheme would have been unthinkable even in the city’s recent past.
“Ten years ago, we would not have imagined developments of this quality and size…in the middle of the city centre – and yet over the last twelve months or so, there have been quite a number of major proposals that have come forward and I think that’s really positive,” he said.
Committee chair Javed Iqbal described the current car park as “neglected” and “crying out for development”.
“It’s going to bring new life to city living – if [the buildings] are anywhere near as good as they look in the pictures, they will be a great change to that part [of Preston],” Cllr Iqbal said.
Each of the towers will be based on a design which mixes glazed areas with concrete cladding, the latter likely to be in two contrasting colours.
The project – proposed by Blackburn-based Pillars Holdings – has undergone a significant redesign following input from council planning officers.
However, the plans did attract eight objections, with concerns raised over a suggested loss of privacy and light for existing residents on surrounding streets, the claimed inadequacy of the parking arrangements and a change to the character of the area.
It was also claimed that insufficient consideration had been given to access for emergency service vehicles in the event of a fire – a point picked up by committee member Neil Darby – but the meeting heard that fire safety was a matter for building control regulations, rather than planners.
Planning officers concluded that the development would be in-keeping with advice from Historic England to place tall buildings within a “varied and dynamic skyline”.
It was noted that the nearby Sandown Court tower blocks are three storeys higher than the tallest of the proposed apartments would be and are also on higher ground, while the Avenham Street multi-storey car park opposite the site is six floors high.
However, it was acknowledged that most of the buildings in the area are between three and four storeys tall, with nearby residential buildings lower still.
Case officer Robert Major said that any harm to heritage assets was “outweighed by the benefits of providing high quality living in a sustainable location”.
He added: What is proposed is considered to provide a landmark development that will be of benefit to the area and the city as a whole, as it is replacing a car park which currently adds little to the visual character of the area."
David Cox, whose Preston-based architecture firm is behind the plans, said the project signalled a “strong start” to the recently-approved masterplan to radically redesign the Stoneygate area of the city.
“We think it will redefine the residential market in our city and put Preston another rung up the ladder of success.
“The level of investment in this development will be one of the largest private investments in the city in recent years – and we hope the realisation of this project will make it easier to invest in Preston in the future.
“[Its] standards will set new expectations for city living in Preston,” Mr. Cox said.
Planning permission was granted subject to a series of conditions, including final approval of the materials to be used.
Mr. Cox said that there was still a “substantial amount of work to do” on that aspect of the design, particularly in relation to the planned concrete cladding.
There will be no properties in the ‘affordable’ category as part of the development, after the city council accepted that it would not be financially viable for the developer to be obliged to include them.
The development will comprise 175 one-bedroom and 119 two-bedroom apartments, split as follows:
Block A – junction of Avenham Street and Syke Street, 16 storeys tall, with 14 storeys of residential accommodation providing 95 properties and two levels of basement parking
Block B – facing onto Avenham Street, nine storeys tall, with eight storeys of residential accommodation providing 73 properties and two levels of basement parking
Block C – junction of Boltons Court and Bostock Street, eight storeys tall, with seven storeys of residential accommodation providing 71 properties and two levels of basement parking
Block D – junction of Boltons Court and Avenham Lane, seven storeys tall, with five storeys of residential accommodation providing 41 properties and two levels of basement parking
A suspended narrow stairwell link, set significantly back from the main elevations, will connect Blocks C and D at the upper levels.
Link Block – a five-storey link block, linking Blocks C and D, providing 14 properties and a roof garden terrace.
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