More than 100 developers have been urged to invest in Preston, and Lancashire, at a county-wide event.
Lancashire County Council’s leader councillor Jennifer Mein addressed the event outlining the impact of the £434million City Deal on Preston and South Ribble.
Funds from the investment programme are bringing new roads and infrastructure to the area – including thousands of new homes in the North West of Preston.
She was joined by chairman of the City Deal Jim Carter who said the event was about showcasing everything that’s going on across the county during the Place North West conference.
He said: “This event was a great example of how Lancashire is directly engaging with investors and taking our story to the marketplace. We know many of the developers and agents present won’t have heard such a level of detail about what’s happening in and around Central Lancashire, and this conference gave us a platform to showcase how through initiatives like the City Deal, Preston and South Ribble offers an unrivalled investment opportunity.
“The fact we had the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, local business leaders and senior representatives from both district and county councils all talking in positive terms about how Lancashire is pro-development, pro-growth and is united in its ambition to unlock more private sector investment to drive the economy is a testament to how far the county has come. This is also why central government is so supportive of our aspirations to be at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse.
“We now need to capitalise on the buzz created by this conference, and other events like it, and we will be following up with all the delegates to see how we can convert their interest and enthusiasm about Central Lancashire as an investment destination into potential deals.”
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Lancashire’s reputation as being a ‘divided county’ was discussed and the threat a skills shortage and the details of Brexit could pose to the City Deal were also debated.
However, many speakers said they felt Preston was ‘in a far better position than other places’ as it had a ‘much better story to tell that some citities do’.
Large-scale development schemes like the Preston Markets quarter project – bringing a £50m cinema and restaurant complex into the city centre with the demolition of the current Indoor Market – were showcased.
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Regional director of Muse Developments Mike Horner, who is involved in the Markets project, said: “The scale and ambition of the City Deal, and the positive private-public approach that the City Deal partners have adopted, has really helped developers like ourselves get on with the job. The knock-on effect of getting large scale schemes like ours brought forward, in terms of getting other developers and investors excited about the potential of Preston and Central Lancashire is also very significant.
“For example, we are already dealing with enquiries from leading operators interested in the cinema scheme we are delivering, despite it being two years away from completion. Part of this is clearly down to the commercial potential that a thriving and prosperous Preston can offer investors, but a lot of the enthusiasm is also due to the reputation Lancashire is getting within the property world as place which is ambitious, embraces growth and looks to work closely with developers to create high quality, sustainable and joined-up projects which work for everyone.
“Events like this conference, where major private sector players were on the same page as council leaders and local authority chief executives, demonstrates how initiatives like the City Deal and Growth Deal have helped galvanise a new era of collaboration, commercially and politically, in the county and we are greatly looking forward to working with Lancashire partners to help drive its resurgence as a major regional economy.”
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