Interest in Winckley Square is beginning to rise according to property experts in the city as a revamp of the area continues.Advertisement
Preston is catching the eye of investors across the country, and beyond, as a recovery from the dark days of the Tithebarn collapse begins.
Estate agents say they have not seen the level of outside interest in the city at this level since 2005-2006 before the city centre redevelopment collapsed.
Winckley Square appears to be the hotspot and it is due to see £1.2million spent on it as part of a Heritage Lottery upgrade.
Letting agents Easthams and Co and relocation agents Spencer Hobbs said they had seen an upturn in interest,
Related: Diary of a much-loved city gem in Winckley Square
Director Matt Eastham said more than 20 calls had been placed since the start of the year from London-based investors.
He said: “We’ve not seen this level of interest in Winckley Square and the wider city for around 10 years.
“There’s a lot of interest because your savvy investors are seeing what’s happening in Manchester and thinking Preston is well-placed.
“Winckley Square itself used to just be full of for sale signs but we’re seeing a lot of deals being done now. There’s some great properties to be had round there, and you’ve got the train links into Manchester.
“Our relocation business is also seeing a real lift in companies and people looking at Preston. We just need to see the employers now, there’s not enough big firms here to keep hold of our graduates.”
Director of Lancashire Home Life, who manage a number of properties in the Square, Gary Gardner said: “There’s been a lot of interest from investors recently. What’s interesting is there’s all different demographics wanting to take a look.
“You’ve got former students from UCLan who have gone on and made their money and are now looking to invest. Then there’s a lot of older generation who are selling up down South and they want the city life and the amenities.
“There will certainly be a lot more investment coming but people are waiting to pull the pin on two things, the council to get its act together with the Square itself. There’s money coming but it’s not huge amounts, and the cinema plan too. Once that happens we’ll definitely see a lift because the footfall will increase and the rents they get will go up.”
In March work was completed on cutting down a number of trees in the Square, after a funding bid to the Heritage Lottery was approved in June last year.
Deputy leader of the city council councillor John Swindells said: “It’s great to see the renewed interest in Winckley Square. It’s always been a great place to live and or work, right in the heart of the City Centre. That’s why we’re investing millions of pounds into the square with the help of Heritage Lottery, Preston BID, Lancashire County Council and the Community Interest company.
“The Townscape Heritage Initiative is progressing well and is already helping to bring empty buildings back into use. Winckley Square is also part of the City Centre Housing Zone.
“Tenders are due out soon for the £1.1m garden restoration project so there is lots to be positive about.
Manchester restaurant mini-chain Solita is due to arrive in the Square in July, replacing what was Heathcotes and Olive Press after Paul Heathcote decided to sell up and leave Preston.
Do you live or work on the Square? What do you think? Let us know in the comments below