Looming above the Preston skyline the 47-metre crane working on the Friargate Court development is the only symbol of major work going on in the city.Advertisement
A 244-bed student accommodation complex is due to be open in September and its owners Portergate hail it as the first stage in rejuvinating the area.
During a tour of the building, which will house upmarket student accommodation, there’s evidence of the changing demands of students and young professionals.
Chairman of the Portergate Group Anthony Jackson, who donned a hard hat and hi-vis with us, shows us around the nearly built ‘first phase’.
He said: “We’ve learned a lot from another development we did in Salford.
“There’s a big demand now for the fully-serviced option of accommodation. You have a lot of students coming from overseas and their parents want comfortable, secure and professional living places for them.
“We’ll have that here at Friargate Court. You can see the furnishings and everything is top notch, it’s all hand crafted and none of this flatpack stuff.”
Listen to Mr Jackson describe the scheme
Around 150 labourers are employed on the site at any one time as they continue to push to complete the £18m project by July.
Mr Jackson said: “We first started this in 2010 and we thought this was the right place. When you see the vision the university has for the Adelphi Quarter and the investment going on there it’s the right time.
“The next step is to complete a second block which is aimed at those young professionals who are staying on, or those who want to continue studying but need their own space.
“Studio flats are much in demand and this location is perfect for them.”
Friargate Court stands on what was Poppadom Palace, Blitz nightclub and the Retro Rags clothes shop.
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Three retail units at the base of the development are due to be let, but Mr Jackson said they would not be rushing for any tenant they could find.
He said: “There needs to be a quality offering in there. I’m in discussions with three or so convenience stores about one of the food units, and we’ll see about the rest of them.”
Permission is already granted for a coffee shop in place of what is currently the Great Shaw Street electricity substation, which is to be demolished and a new more powerful substation built to replace it on site. Outline planning permission has been agreed for the second phase of the accommodation block, with full plans due in September.
Mr Jackson is confident the scheme will be open for the first batch of students in September.
He said: “We’re already getting lots of people taking an interest. There’s around 150 on the list to reserve a room and they are from all over, Spain, China, Russia, you name it, there’s a lot of interest from families abroad wanting to ensure their children have the best lifestyle while over here studying.”
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