Preston must learn the lessons of Bolton when it builds its Youth Zone, according to experts in keeping young people entertained.
Designs have been unveiled for how the Youth Zone and revamped Preston Bus Station apron could look.
Five shortlisted entries are on display to the public and a senior consultant with Onside, the charity part-funding the Youth Zone, says it is in a “perfect location”.
Jeremy Glover MBE, who has been working with Bolton Youth Zone and before that the Lads and Girls club in the town, says Preston is well placed.
He said: “The key is to ensure it has plenty of activities for the youngsters. You need to cater for so many different tastes.
“Looking at these designs each of them has kept this in mind, but you can never underestimate just how much young people want to do and try.”
Mr Glover explained how before the Bolton group moved into a purpose-built Youth Zone it was only able to help 300 youngsters a day. This has now mushroomed to 3,000 a day.
He said: “We need to ensure we are open when young people need us. We open from the minute the schools close until into the evening.
“We have to be open at the weekends, from 8am to 10pm. And school holidays are crucial.
“When young people want to use it we have to make sure we’re ready.”
He said around 25 staff would be on duty at any given time at the Bolton Youth Zone and he expected the Preston building would need a similar level of staffing alongside trusted volunteers.
Mr Glover indicated design three was his personal favourite – although he is not on the judging panel for the final decision.
He said: “Looking through them it seems to have the best fit for what youngsters would need.
“Preston is lucky to have such a perfect location. All the young people in the county can get on a bus and be here in no time. That’s how they get around.”
He said it was important the building maintained a lot of social spaces.
He said: “A lot of youngsters just want somewhere to go. They don’t want to play badminton or do football. They just want to sit down, relax and chat with their mates in a safe environment. A Youth Zone can do that.”
The five designs are on display in the Bus Station until 5pm on Friday and online voting for the public’s favourite runs until 4pm on Tuesday 21 July.
The Youth Zone is being funded by £1million from Onside with another £5m coming from the county council.
A final decision on the winning design is expected in late July.
What do you think of the five designs? What’s your favourite? Let us know in the comments below