An organisation which was due to bring regeneration to Preston city centre has been officially closed.Advertisement
Preston Vision Limited – a registered company and offshoot of the Preston Vision Board – ran for ten years but fundamentally failed to attract investment into the city or receive money for regeneration.
The think-tank, which included former University of Central Lancashire vice-chancellor Dr Malcolm McVicar, and former Lancashire County Council chief executive Phil Halsall, was made up of business leaders, council leaders and staff from across Preston.
It was created as a vehicle for funding from the North West Regional Development Agency and to develop the future of the city – including the failed Tithebarn regeneration scheme.
Funding for the Vision board ran out in March 2011 and in November 2010 it was announced all of its staff would be made redundant.
The Vision board was founded by Lancashire County Council, Preston City Council and UCLan.
A statement in 2010 said although the Board had no staff it would remain operational, but a report by the city council says it will now close.
City council leader councillor Peter Rankin says in a report: “A final meeting of the Preston Vision Board was held in early June at which the board decided to close the Company.
“The Company status was in place to enable PVL (Preston Vision Limited) to receive substantial amounts of funding via the NWDA.
“In the event, whilst some funds were made available to employ a small number of staff the funding expected never materialised.
“Against this background PVL as a vehicle for investment in Preston is no longer viable. The reality is that to secure investment the Council must work sub regionally, regionally and nationally.”
An informal group known as the Open City Group has now been formed by some of the former Preston Vision directors and is “concentrating on design, historic legacy and the environment.”
The current regeneration of the city centre has seen Preston Guild Hall and the Bus Station sold by the city council. The Guild Hall for £1 to local multi-millionaire Simon Rigby who is pursuing an investment strategy with the venue.
Preston Bus Station, the car park and surrounding land, has been gifted to Lancashire County Council after it was made a grade II listed building in September 2013. The county council is pledging to invest £23 million in the building, creating a Youth Zone and a smaller bus station. A design competition to find an architect for the building is currently ongoing.
Preston City Council is ploughing its investment efforts into plans for Preston Indoor Market. The current Indoor Market, car park and Lancastria House are due to be demolished to make way for a new cinema and restaurant complex, with a newly restored outdoor covered market.
New plans for the markets were unveiled in early June and have found favour with market traders after opposition to initial plans.