Preston estates in local council plan

Plans: Veronica Afrin
Plans: Veronica Afrin
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A ‘community council’ is to be set up in part of Preston to give residents a major say on how the area is developed.

Preston Council chiefs will next week debate whether to rubber-stamp plans allowing the Friends of Fishwick and St Matthew’s group to set up a Neighbourhood Forum for the under-developed inner east Preston area.

The forum would effectively act as a pressure group to lobby Preston Council and other organisations to improve the image and reputation of the two estates.

If it is given the official status, it would have the power to oversee and be consulted on any plans and issues proposed for the area – although that does not mean it would have the power to veto plans.

Most importantly though, the forum would have the power to draw up a neighbourhood development plan, setting out how the area will develop in years to come.

That would feed into the Local Plan for the city, meaning residents would have a direct say on how their estates develops in the future.

The forum has already said it wants to drive regeneration of run down shops, houses and factories, tackle car congestion and make roads safer, clean up grot spots and apply for grants to fund community facilities.

It also wants to liaise with youth organisations to ensure young people in St Matthews and Fishwick have enough facilities.

The group currently has 25 members and anyone who lives or works in the area can join.

Coun Veronica Afrin, who represents St Matthews on Preston Council, said: “If this is approved by cabinet they would become an official body. That means all plans and anything else would have to be run past them.

“Its powers would be to oversee and have the absolute right to be consulted on plans and anything which affects the area. They can also raise issues with us. They are a very active group.”

The cabinet will meet to discuss the plans on November 21 at the Town Hall.