On Thursday 29th January 2009 the Central Area Forum of Preston City Council met to allow the public a chance to see all the designs for Preston’s historic Flag Market in detail.Advertisement
Scale models of the six designs had been produced, along with boards showing the designs and explaining the rationale behind them. There was also a scale model of the current Flag Market layout.
The Central Area Forum covers the St George’s, University, Town Centre, Moor Park, Riversway and Tulketh wards.
The presentation on the Flag Market redevelopment was made by Mike Brogan, Assistant Director (City Projects). He was the man who made the recommendations to the City Centre Committee and produced the report about the Flag Market redevelopment.
Brogan outlined the reason for the proposed redevelopment. The Flag Market is supposed to be the historic centre of Preston but due to the development of the city in the 1960s it has lost its place as the ‘centre’ due to the movement of people away from the Flag Market and towards Friargate/Fishergate instead.
He showed the assembled public and councillors through the six designs, their positives and negatives and gave a lot of background about how a redeveloped Flag Market would sit alongside the Tithebarne redevelopment.
The key development will be the levelling of the slope on the current Flag Market. This slope causes problems for running events on the space and brings extra costs to the Council and those wishing to host events as they have to find ways to level off things like ice rinks/ferris wheels/fountains etc.
Brogan is also keen to see the removal of the trees and street clutter leading from Friargate up to the Flag Market as this restricts the view of the Harris Museum. This is an excellent idea as the Harris is an impressive building and easily Preston’s best looking building and at the moment it’s hidden when you walk up from Friargate.
There was also some outline of the sort of events that would take place with the public consultation revealing that the movable fountain in the summer of 2006 was the most memorable and successful use of the space in the public’s mind. This was an excellent use of the space, it was fun, free and excellent for everyone all ages – plus much needed in the sweltering heat!
The obelisk that currently stands at the Cheapside/Harris end of the Flag Market would be moved back to its intended position at the head of Friargate as you approach the Flag Market. Brogan showed how the obelisk had moved three/four times already (and had even been in someone’s garden for 100 years before being recovered by the Council!) and that historic records showed its original place was where the winning design planned to move it to.
There were some questions from the public. One lady asked about why there weren’t more steps included in the plans, and why we should need to worry about steps – as in her day people just walked up and down them without any bother. Brogan explained that due to DDA compliance the space had to be accessible to those with disabilities and also in today’s litigous climate the chances of someone slipping/tripping and suing the council was high.
Another member of the public asked whether the wall in front of the Harris Museum could be removed and a better entrance created into the Harris. Brogan explained that due to the Harris being a listed building there was a very limited amount of work that could be done, but that the winning Flag Market design allowed for incorporation of creating a new entrance into the Harris building.
The next steps in the plans – as the Council wants to get them completed before 2012 – is to negotiate further with the developers and suggest tweaks to the winning design, particularly the electronic banners that a lot of people seem unkeen on, including councillors. There is potential funding available for the redevelopment from the North West Regional Development Agency (NWDA) and the Council needs to move quickly to secure the funding.
Find out more about the Central Area Forum