Restricting estate agent boards, bringing vacant buildings back into use and tidying up shop fronts are some of the key priorities of a plan for Winckley Square.Advertisement
Council heritage and planning officers are currently preparing a £1 million bid for lottery cash to bring the Georgian Square in the heart of Preston up to scratch.
With empty properties, overgrown trees and bushes and shabby shop fronts on the surrounding streets the area is a conservation area but a new management plan is set to be adopted by the council.
Nigel Roberts, principal urban designer at Preston City Council, said the management plan was a taster of what the full lottery bid would hope to achieve.
He said: “The plan seeks to say what we’ll be looking to do on Winckley Square.
“It’s about working with the owners of the buildings to find ways to bring them back into use. College House is perhaps one of the best examples.
“The building sticks out like a sore thumb, and it has been vacant for a number of years. The only thing in there is water and damp, yet it is a listed building.”
Mr Roberts revealed the council would be meeting next week London-based property firm Freshwater next week to seek a way forward with the building.
The council is also seeking to declare war on estate and letting agent boards on the Square itself.
An application to the Department of Communities and Local Government to give the council the power to require anyone wanting to put up a for sale or to let sign on Winckley Square to apply for planning permission.
He said: “There are a lot of signs on the Square. If we got these powers it would allow us to require any agent to apply for permission, and could limit the size and length of time the signs are up.
“Another thing we could do is produce a standard design and make all agents adhere to boards of the same colour. It would still have room for their name and logos but would give a better uniformity to the Square.”
The council’s plan also covers the streets around the Square, with Cannon Street highlighted out as a road with plenty of work to do.
“There are a lot of shopfronts down on Cannon Street which could be improved,” said Mr Roberts, “we will seek to work with owners to put grant funding in place to help them perhaps remove some of the shutters and open up more of the historic building fronts which are down that street.
“It has a lot of potential being one of the side streets of Fishergate and it is full of small, independent, shops and cafes.”
Removing the amount of road signs will also be a priority for the council to open up the Square and they plan to make the Robert Peel statue a centre-piece of Winckley Square.
Simon Turner, director of the Winckley Square Community Interest Company, said: “There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes, some of it is very technical as this document highlights. It’s important that the community is involved in this project and is given an opportunity to share their views.
“During our consultation on the green space, over 300 people took part so it’s clear the community is interested and passionate and want to be involved.”
Environmental charity Groundwork North West are working on improving the trees and greenery in the Square, and improving drainage to stop flooding.
A number of consultation events are to be held at the Harris Museum on Wednesday 5 February from 10am to 12noon about the proposals for the Square and a wider public consultation in March, including artists impressions of how Winckley Square and the conservation area could look if the lottery money works.
You can view the draft management plan on the council website and send your feedback to [email protected]
The management plan will form part of a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for £1 million.
This will be submitted in late May with a decision expected in September.
Earlier this week a proposal to move Cross Street into the Winckley Square conservation area from the Avenham conservation area was accepted, allowing the street to become part of the lottery bid area.
What do you think? Do you work or live in Winckley Square? Has the council got its priorities right? Let us know in the comments below