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Ask the planners: How do you solve a problem like Preston City Centre?

Posted on - 11th November, 2013 - 10:00am | Author - | Posted in - News, Preston City Centre, Preston Council, Redevelopment
The Shelf-Life plan proposes a very different use for the top of Avenham car park

Do we need some imagination to bring life to the city centre? Like the recent Forgotten Spaces competition

There have been some big changes in recent years to how the centre of Preston was supposed to develop.

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After the collapse of the Tithebarn development, which would have seen a huge swathe of the city centre turned into new stores with big brand names such as John Lewis arriving.

And the listing of the Bus Station to make it a grade II listed building, leaving the option of demolition – previously the path chosen by Preston City Council – a very narrow and time consuming one for the council.

Plus there’s the future of the Guild Hall, costing taxpayers £1 million a year to subsidise.

The high street, main shopping streets such as Friargate and Fishergate have taken a battering during the last five years of economic turmoil – and while Fishergate is being partly pedestrianised it still struggles to attract the big name stores.

So, how do you solve a city centre like Preston’s? Despite the Ringway being driven right through it, there are spots of Victorian civic grandeur such as the Flag Market, frontage of the Harris Museum and the bustle and diversity of the covered market and indoor market.

The tranquility of Winckley Square and the award-winning Avenham Park are also a feature.

Transport wise it is car-dominated, with the Bus Station running under-capacity for visits and usage and split from the train station at the opposite end of town. Church Street, once a thriving thoroughfare, is now a collection of takeaways, empty buildings and assorted establishments.

Set against this backdrop, just what should the planners do as they release their new city centre plan? The city council is realising it cannot do this on its own, as evidenced by the call to arms for someone to either buy or partner with them on the Guild Hall.

At Blog Preston we want to know how you think the city centre should develop and we’ve got two of Preston’s top architects and planners on hand to answer your questions.

Sebastian Salisbury RIBA, the Frank Whittle Partnership, Preston
Seb Sailsbury
Sebastian is a Preston-born architect bringing cutting edge design techniques and theories to projects throughout the UK. A construction industry professional, he knows how to deliver viable and affordable schemes. Sebastian takes influence from contemporary and innovative architectural compositions and has a passion for creating realistic 3D visualisations. He is committed to producing economically and environmentally sustainable designs that give a real long term benefit to both clients and the built surroundings. Seb also has a keen interest in heritage projects and has worked on numerous restoration schemes around the North West of England.

Paul Walton, Chartered Town Planner, PWA Planning, Preston
paul walton
Paul is a leading planning advisor to the development industry in Preston, Central Lancashire and across the North West. He has worked as a Chartered Town Planner in private practice in Preston for more than 20 years and has built up good working relationships with the various local authorities across the Central Lancashire region, as well as further afield. Acting for private and public sector clients on a varied range of small, medium and larger projects, Paul has a reputation for problem solving and strong client focus.

Ever wondered if a building could be brought back into use? How a city icon could be restored? What a space in the centre could be used for? Why the Ringway can’t just be moved? Ask them in the comments below, there’s no question off limits and we’ll put your questions to Sebastian and Paul to try to come up with how the city centre can change in the coming years….

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

You can fill in the form above as many times as you like, or ask as many questions as you like. Or just leave a comment below…

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