Architects behind Preston Market plans for a new outdoor market, cinema and restaurant complex have been axed.Advertisement
Councillors have authorised spending an additional £79,625 to change who comes up with the masterplan for the markets – on top of nearly £50,000 paid out to the former architects behind the scheme.
Frank Whittle Partnership (FWP), who had already been selected to demolish the existing Indoor Market, car park and Lancastria House, will now also do the designs alongside market experts Greig and Stephenson.
Greig and Stephenson were behind the redevelopment of Borough Market in London and the original architects for the failed markets-element of the Tithebarn scheme.
They and FWP have been handed a £241,000 contract for the design of the new market, beating three other architects for the job.
It means the scheme is put back by a number of months while new plans are worked out.
IBI Taylor Young, who had been appointed in November last year, as architects on the scheme, will no longer play any part in the new market. It is understood the firm did not re-tender for the contract.
The firm has been paid £49,302 since its appointment in seven different payments this year according to the city council’s accounts – all of the payments being for building services and planning work. Preston City Council has confirmed they exercised a break clause in the contract with IBI Taylor Young after their work on the concept stage of the markets. The city council says they will built on the initial work done by IBI.
At the time councillor Peter Rankin said of IBI Taylor Young, who had worked on Ashton and Chesterfield’s market regenerations,: “I am confident that with their experience and track record in delivering successful market schemes, IBI Taylor Young Ltd, can help Preston to achieve similar success for Preston’s Markets Quarter too.”
Norman Young, who runs the Banana King stall and runs the unofficial Preston Markets Twitter account, was surprised by the decision.
He said: “That’s a strange one. We had a good rapport with IBI Taylor Young.
“I thought their design was really good with the money constrains given. We will have to see what FWP come up with.”
Mr Young questioned was experience FWP had in constructing markets – given their background is more in major sports and stadium construction.
The city council has decided to stay local with moving to use FWP.
Martin Whittle from FWP, who are based in Ribblesdale place, said: “It’s good to see major aspirational projects like Preston Markets delivered by a local team of experts who can bring decades of experience to the job.
“As a Preston based multi-disciplinary practice we have immense pride in our city and the council’s ambitious vision for Preston Markets is a sign of increasing confidence in Preston, something we have seen in our growing portfolio of regeneration work in the city.
“We’re currently working on other elements so when the opportunity to lead on the whole development arose it wasn’t one to be missed.
Preston City Council has defended the decision to change architects by saying it had to as it wishes to spend more on the Markets, forcing them to retender for the design of the scheme.
It is not known how much the city council are pumping into the project – apart from it is in the millions of pounds.
Deputy leader of Preston City Council councillor John Swindells said: “This is a major investment and I’m confident we have got a great combination of local experts to lead the Preston Markets redevelopment. This was a tough contract to win, with a field of top architectural practices in the running.
“The markets are hugely important to Preston and attract thousands of customers every week. I am confident with the passion and good will of traders and expertise of our design team, we can deliver a market truly fitting for the city of Preston and one we can all be rightly proud of.”
While the city council’s plans for the Market have been stalled while the retendering process took place, the Fishergate Shopping Centre’s owners announced a £25 million redevelopment of their centre to include a cinema and restaurant complex.
Benson Elliot, the hedge fund who own the centre, said upon submitting the plans: “As a well-funded private sector investor, we are able to deliver this project without any recourse to the public purse and begin work as soon as we get the go-ahead.
“We hope the city council will agree with us that our plans will encourage people to spend and enjoy more time in Preston that it adds to and complements the other great initiatives we are seeing to improve and revitalise the city centre.”
What do you make of the change of architects? What’s your view on the markets scheme? Let us know in the comments below