The political ties between Labour-run Preston City Council and Lancashire County Council look set to have their bonds tightened further.
A collaboration agreement between the two councils to redevelop the City Centre North area of the city, which includes the Preston Bus Station site, is due to be signed later in April.
The agreement would bind the two councils to working on proposals for the area – formerly covered by the failed Tithebarn project – over the next ten years.
A report to the city council’s cabinet states: “The City and County Councils are increasingly working closely together on a range of projects across the City Centre. The City Centre is also identified as of vital importance to the City Deal. Initially consideration was given to the area referred to as “City Centre North ” prompted by the proposed transfer of Preston Bus station and Multi Storey Car Park.
“However, both Councils recognise that to create the conditions to sustain a buoyant City Centre, which can adapt and withstand challenge, a planned and persistent effort is required. This proposal considers the wider context of how the two Councils can work together to secure the long term and sustainable growth of Preston City Centre.”
The city council recently transferred ownership of the Bus Station to the county council – although the documents detailing the terms of the transfer have not been made public, despite a request by Blog Preston – and now city council leader Peter Rankin says he and Jennifer Mein, in power at County Hall, will spearhead a new board set up to improve the city centre.
He said: “We have increasingly been working closely with Lancashire County Council on a number of important economic development and regeneration issues. The improvements on Fishergate and of course the huge City Deal are two examples, and the latest has been the transfer of the bus station to the County.
“It has become clear that working together in a coordinated way is more likely to bring about much needed improvements and economic regeneration in the city centre. An collaboration agreement will enable us to set out a number of key objectives, plan ahead, and involve UCLan, the Lancashire Economic Partnership, investors and others in appropriate development proposals.
“I particularly welcome the opportunity to work closely with Jenny Mein, the LCC Leader, on the Leadership Board which is being set up to drive the venture forward.”
The city council’s cabinet are set to rubber-stamp the agreement on April 24 and it will be signed following the local elections on May 22, which include an election for Peter Rankin’s seat in the Tulketh ward.
It is the latest collaboration between the city and county council who are tasked with working together on delivering the City Deal, which will see £434 million pumped into huge infrastructure projects such as new roads and housing developments in the city over the next decade.
You can see the full collaboration agreement on the council website.
What do you think? Should the city council be throwing its lot in with County Hall? What would you like to see happen in the city centre? Let us know in the comments below