The city was one of 100 towns and cities invited to bid for a share of the government’s Towns Fund, designed to spark long-term economic growth in different parts of the country.
A total of 31 potential projects were whittled down to the nine that will now form the basis of Preston’s pitch for the cash.
The city is amongst the first to make a bid in the three rounds of applications which are being invited over the next six months. The 100 locations are not in competition with each other and each could be successful if their applications are deemed strong enough.
Preston is hoping that its initial proposal will enable it to progress to a second round of bidding, during which more detailed submissions will be made. It is expected to be 12 months before successful round two applicants are announced and the individual projects can be brought to life.
This is what else Preston has in mind for the cash:
Plans for a Youth Zone in the city were first mooted a decade ago, but appeared to have permanently stalled last year after the search for a suitable site was effectively abandoned. Twelve months earlier, a gulf had opened up between the Preston Youth Zone board and Lancashire County Council over how the facility could be delivered. However, it has now re-emerged as one of the proposed Towns Fund projects. The scheme will be pitched as “somewhere to go, something to do and someone to talk to” for young people in Preston aged between eight and 19. It would be operated by the same provider which runs the hugely popular Youth Zone in Chorley, which opened its doors two years ago and where one in three under-19s is a member.
The £10.7m project to completely refurbish the landmark museum and library has already secured £3.5m worth of funding and is due to submit a Heritage Lottery Fund application for another £4.5m in November. If successful, Towns Fund money could also go towards the ambitious scheme, which has been described as seeking to create “a cultural hub for Preston’s communities and a compelling attraction for local people and tourists”. Planned work includes revealing more of the building’s architecture – and improvements to the library, along with the development of a dedicated children’s space.
RENEWAL OF HARRIS QUARTER ASSETS
The proposed regeneration of city council-owned sites for cultural and community purposes, including Amounderness House and Birley Street Annex, as well as addresses on Lancaster Road. The Post understands that enabling work to support the reopening of The Guildhall would also be carried out.
HARRIS QUARTER ILLUMINATE AND INTEGRATE
Described as an attempt to “realise the full potential of the Harris Quarter” by making the most of its buildings, streets and open spaces. The plans would include the upgrading of the public realm on Friargate between Ring Way and the Flag Market, linked to improvements already planned. Enhancements to the wider area – including building illumination, digital projections and better street lighting – are also proposed.
‘ANIMATION’ OF PUBLIC SPACES
A project to enhance the public spaces that are or could be used for hosting events in the city centre – including the flag market, Winckley Square and the bus station. The improvements would enable them to be used “more intensively throughout the year”.
Some of the cash would be directed to the cinema, restaurants and leisure development being built on the city’s former indoor market and car park.
CITY CENTRE SKILLS SPACES
A central location within an as-yet-unidentified key building in the Harris Quarter to create a skills and careers hub for young people.
A scheme focusing on “supporting all aspects of culture in the city” – particularly by assisting community cultural organisations.
HEALTH AND WELLBEING CAPACITY-BUILDING
A scheme aiming to improve all aspects of the city’s health and wellbeing – now with a renewed impetus in the wake of the Covid crisis. Designed to capitalise on the city’s health and care assets to bring about improvements in mental and physical wellbeing.