Is it just me or does it feel like a plug has been pulled somewhere on a money dam in Preston?Advertisement
This year has seen the city finally begin realising its potential and starting to shake off some of the gloom and misery from the Tithebarn project’s collapse.
It’s a word whispered in hushed tones because we’ve all been here before, ten years ago. Preston stood ready to make its way upwards in terms of its city centre offering, shopping, house prices, and general prosperity. Blog Preston was born amid this era of big schemes, big plans.
Cue the implosion of the John Lewis anchored Preston City Council city centre development and it was like a bombshell left in the middle of a master-plan that suddenly had no mastery left. Coupled with the financial collapse of 2008 and a period of stagnation set in.
But, now there’s a hint of colour back in the cheeks of Proud Preston.
There is no ‘masterplan’ this time. Well, UClan have one, but therein lies a clue to the city’s future.
It’s about lots of different schemes coming together. Preston City Council may claim they are pulling the string but in all honesty the less the council directly has to do with the schemes the better position we’ll probably find the city in.
Read more: Preston ranked as best place to live in the North West
Funding cutbacks mean the city council is a tiny player now, compared to what it used to be, in what’s involved in bringing the city forward. Key schemes like the Markets still rely on the council coming up with funding partners and putting some money in, but it’s not the only show in town and that’s crucial. Coupled with this the council’s passing over of key buildings such as the Guild Hall, Bus Station and others to either private hands like Simon Rigby or those with deeper pockets such as Lancashire County Council has proved a shrewd move. Both are now seeing investment after years of ever-decreasing budgets and the threat of demolition or mothballing.
This last week has seen solid plans go in for the Park Hotel, Fives looking like it will reopen, a former warehouse being converted into flats and the Cuerden scheme with IKEA at its flatpack heart go on display. Plus UCLan’s ‘masterplan’, which is essentially building lots of new buildings around the Adelphi roundabout, sees further approvals and building work beginning.
Preston has to change and adapt if it is to survive and thrive. As long as this change is managed adequately, and not all tied up in one huge scheme, it stands more chance of going ahead and not just being CGI porn in planning applications.
Next year marks 15 years since Preston was granted its city status, it’s taken a long and winding path, but it feels like the city is once again back on the foothills on the way to being reborn.
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And Preston North End sit three points off the play-offs (at the time of writing!), so there is proof that anything can really happen.
How do you feel about the future of Preston? What would you like to see happen? Let us know in the comments below