The ambitious £3.4 million Fishergate Central Gateway project in Preston has been heralded as a major success by one of the largest retail centres in the city.
Keith Mitchell, manager at the Fishergate Shopping Centre, says the new look has transformed the feel of the city’s premier retail street and its businesses are now beginning to feel the benefits.
He was speaking as work was set to start on the second phase of the ambitious “shared space” scheme – transforming the full length of Fishergate from the railway station to the Minster.
As well as managing the flagship city retail centre, which was acquired by leading independent private equity real-estate fund manager Benson Elliot in August 2013, Keith is also a member of Preston’s Business Improvement District (BID) committee.
He said: “There have been disruptions, and at times it has been frustrating, but that is understandable given the scale of the project.
“It has been challenging at times. We have worked closely with the local authority to meet those challenges and to help ensure the scheme’s successful delivery.
“The improvements that we are now seeing as a result of the scheme have also been favourably received by retailers in the centre.
“It has been worth it all when you look down Fishergate today and see what has been achieved.
“The street has been transformed and its whole atmosphere and vibe has changed for the better. It looks great and is a much nicer place for pedestrians and shoppers.
“There’s so much more room for everyone and the fact walking down Fishergate is a more pleasant experience is helping to attract more people, which is another plus for traders.
“We’re looking forward to the year with some confidence and we’re really excited by the potential for further growth, helped by the improvements on Fishergate.”
The first phase of the Fishergate regeneration scheme, from the railway station up to Winckley Street, began last summer and was completed before Christmas.
Phase 2a will take the improvements up the full length of Fishergate to the front of the Minster.
And Phase 2b, which is expected to follow on soon afterwards, will complete the job, taking the new surface along Lancaster Road and round to the front of the soon-to-be restored bus station complex.
Lancashire County Council believes the new-look will also help Preston to attract new businesses and investment into the city.
Benson Elliot, which was founded in 2005, acquired the Fishergate Centre as part of its expansive UK regional investment programme, which has seen it invest heavily in retail centres in towns and cities across the country.
The overall value of its regional investment and development programme in the UK is around £1 billion.
Report by Ged Henderson.
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