Seven red phone boxes in the centre of Preston are to become retail units.Advertisement
The BT phone boxes on Market Street are listed structures but Preston City Council planners have recommended the Thinking Outside the Box’s plan for approval.
Coffee kiosks, a mini art gallery and an ice cream dispenser are three of the uses which could be brought in.
The phone boxes would operate from 8am to 6pm on Monday to Friday, until 7pm on Saturdays and 9am to 6pm on Sundays and Bank Holidays.
Seven full-time jobs and seven part-time jobs are to be created as part of the plans.
The company behind the scheme says the phone boxes would retain their distinctive phone box red and be refurbished every two years.
Currently only two of the nine phone boxes work and these would remain as working phone boxes.
Two letters of objection have been received and the planning application has been called-in for a decision by the planning committee by deputy leader of the council John Swindells.
He said: “The phone boxes are an important part of the City’s heritage and needs careful consideration.
“We need to preserve the boxes for the future. However to do so there needs to be a viable use for them. Clearly the number of mobile phones in use today means all the boxes cannot be viable and some should be retained for their original purpose we need to find acceptable uses for the others which preserves them for future generations.
“The response in social media and the media websites generated much comment at the time and I made sure that the way people could respond to the application. It is disappointing that only two people have made comments.Both object to the changes.”
Both letters say there are a sufficient number of kiosk type units and empty shops in Preston available. The phone boxes should be left in their original form because of their perceived heritage and tourist value.
City council planners write: “Two objections have been received relating to the proposed development, which have been taken into account in the consideration of the application. However the proposed development would not have any unacceptable adverse impacts upon the amenity of the area, the street scene or the conservation area as a whole. The proposal complies with the relevant provisions of the Central Lancashire Core Strategy and the Preston Local Plan and there are no material considerations which outweigh this finding.”
You can view the full plans on the city council website. A second application for listed building consent to convert the phone boxes is also listed for approval.
A decision will be made at the city council’s planning committee on Monday 1 December.
What do you think of the phone boxes plan? Let us know in the comments below