Councillors of all political colours are due to be briefed this week on where the city’s Markets redevelopment is up to.Advertisement
A secret report, restricted from the press and public, is to be shown to councillors about the £50million scheme and the surrounding Harris Quarter Leisure Scheme.
Work has begun on demolishing the former Indoor Market, car park and part of Lancastria House – which is due to be replaced with an 11-screen cinema, restaurant complex and new car park.
But comments made on Blog Preston by cabinet member for resources and finance councillor Martyn Rawlinson suggest the scheme may have hit financial difficulties.
He said, in response to one reader who asked about the timescale: “Still early days for that. Not signed off yet. Could start building early next year if it comes off.”
Asked if it was council funded, Cllr Rawlinson said: “We also need a developer and an investor.”
These comments come after since 2016 the city council had announced Muse Developments and the Light cinema chain were working in partnership with them on the scheme.
Blog Preston approached Preston City Council for comment to clarify the situation on the Markets.
Cllr Rawlinson said: “I can confirm that we have ongoing discussions with Muse and the Light Cinemas regarding the cinema scheme.
“As with any development scheme, the Council is undertaking due diligence, which can take considerable time.
“Due to ongoing commercial negotiations, we are unable to provide any more specific information at this time.”
A previous timescale, reported in 2016 by Blog Preston, stated the city council would have the new cinema and restaurant complex open during 2020.
Councillors will be briefed at full council on Thursday (31 January) about where the Markets, the flagship city regeneration scheme, and the rest of the Harris Quarter scheme is up to.
The Harris scheme has needed to see amendments, as the council’s City Living website references the ‘Youth Zone’ as part of the Bus Station development which has now been scrapped.
Running across much of what was previously going to be the collapsed Tithebarn regeneration scheme, the Harris quarter is the main civic area of the city.
Back in 2014 the city council published its revised city centre plan.
It said it would create 6,000 jobs during the next 15 years and divided the city into ‘Quarters’ – although there were more than four areas.
These included the Corporation Street, Friargate and university area.
Winckley Square was another, plus Stoneygate – which is still seeing detailed plans worked out.
The Horrocks Quarter was another, which has the Queen Street Retail Park at its heart.
Harris Quarter was the flagship area to see regeneration and investment.
In 2017 the city council added a sixth quarter, the Station Gateway which included the Fishergate Shopping Centre and car park as well as the railway station.
A 13 hectare area it includes the Markets, both new and old at its heart.
The 1875 Outdoor Covered Market and Fish Market canopies were restored in recent years and the Outdoor Market now had the £4million Market Hall under it.
Bishopgate as it was called is an area around St John’s Shopping Centre, which is yet to be revitalised, and creating an entertainment hub at the Guild Hall which has been achieved by selling the building to Simon Rigby for £1. He’s invested in creating LeVel and letting out other entertainment units within the complex.
The Bus Station was sold off to Lancashire County Council for £1 in 2013 and a major revamp has been undertaken of the grade-II listed building, but the original plan references a Youth Zone for the area which has now been scrapped for the western apron which is due to become an ‘urban park’ instead.
Read more: End of the road for Preston Youth Zone plans
Ring Way is referenced as becoming a ‘promotion of active frontage on Ringway and improvements to office blocks’.
Church Street also comes under the Harris Quarter, the area on the northern edge round by the Guild Hall – some of which has seen new paving.
And Birley Street, with the former Post Office building, is to see a new hotel open there – The Shankly – which is due to open in April this year by the Signature Living group.
May 2013 – A report to the city council by consultants Quarterbridge recommends demolishing the current Indoor Market, saying a smaller market building is needed
August 2014 – Traders raise concerns about demolishing the existing Indoor Market
November 2014 – IBI Taylor Young were the first set of architects signed up to draw plans for the Markets regeneration, they only fulfilled half their contract before being discontinued by the city council
February 2015 – A scoping report for the city council by cinema experts says the city can support a new multiplex, but the cinema alone will cost at least £6.5million to fit out
March 2015 – Great Times Chinese restaurant closes, it is in Lancastria House which will be part of the Markets scheme
March 2015 – Frank Whittle Partnerships win the contract to be the council’s development partner on the markets
June 2015 – Traders receive briefings on demolishing the Indoor Market, and begin to ‘warm to proposals’
August 2015 – Initial proposals for the Markets scheme were scrapped, and the architects given the heave-ho – at the cost of £80,000 – and the city council re-tendered
January 2016 – Council signs off spending for the Markets scheme
1 April 2016 – It wasn’t an April Fool, the major regeneration scheme for the city, born out of the Ashes of Tithebarn, was announced. To include the demolition of the Indoor Market building. Chief executive at the time, Lorraine Norris, said the scheme was ‘an amazing opportunity’.
Muse Developments and Frank Whittle Partnerships, announced as the council’s partners for the scheme, said it was ‘long overdue’ while the Light Cinema group said ‘Preston is such an amazing opportunity to provide a high quality cinema facility’.
Read more: Six pictures showing new Preston Markets scheme unveiled
April 2016 – City council squashes a bid by the Fishergate Shopping Cente to locate a cinema there as part of a major revamp of the shopping centre, it comes as the plans for the major cinema and restaurant complex were lodged with the city council for planning permission. Artist impressions for the £50million cinema and restaurant complex, as well as markets restoration were also released. A completion date for the new building was given as 2020.
Read more: How Preston’s city centre cinema battle played out
August 2016 – Planning permission is secured for the new Indoor Market Hall
December 2016 – Ribbon cut on the newly restored Preston Outdoor Market and Fish Market canopies
March 2017 – Spades in the ground as Preston Markets work begins on the new Indoor Market Hall
September 2017 – City council issue rebuttle to claims, in documents relating to the Cuerden development in South Ribble, that the Markets redevelopment has ‘stalled’
December 2017 – Opening of the new Market Hall is put back until after Christmas
Saturday 10 February 2018 – final day of trading at the former Indoor Market
February 2018 – The new market hall opens under the Outdoor Covered Market
March 2018 – Civic opening of the new market
September 2018 – Preston’s new Market Hall wins an economic award
December 2018 – Work is nearly complete on a new porch for Preston’s new Market Hall, to fight the chilly temperatures experienced by traders
3 January 2019 – Market Hall car park closes to the public, ahead of demolition work
What do you make of Cllr Rawlinson’s comments? What do you think about the Markets and Harris Quarter scheme? Let us know in the comments below