Preston’s bid for up to £25m from the Towns Fund – and the projects that could benefit

Posted on - 31st July, 2020 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Flag Market, Friargate, Preston City Centre, Preston Council, Preston Guild Hall, Preston News, Redevelopment
Skyline in the city Pic: Tony Worrall
Skyline in the city Pic: Tony Worrall

Preston has submitted a bid for up to £25 million worth of funding to improve the economy, develop the city, and attract jobs and long-term investment.

Preston is one of just 100 places eligible to bid for funding from the Towns Fund, a £3.6 billion scheme established by the government to help develop towns and cities.

A total of 31 projects were put forward by community leaders for consideration for the Towns Fund plan. Some projects were already existing ideas, others came forward from recent engagement and consultation activities.

Not all projects will be eligible for funding, so the Towns Fund Board has selected a shortlist based on an independent assessment of each project’s ability to contribute to inclusive growth and align with Preston’s key strategies and policies.

A spokesperson for Preston City Council said the chosen projects “complement each other by reinvigorating our city centre and will bring richness of life to the people of Preston”.

Here’s the shortlist of projects that have been put forward to the Towns Fund bid, and what Preston City Council had to say about them.

Re-imagining the Harris

The Harris Museum and Art Gallery in Preston city centre Pic: Tony Worrall
The Harris is on the shortlist Pic: Tony Worrall

Re-imagining the Harris is a major investment in the Grade I listed Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library. It is one of the most ambitious cultural projects in the North of England, securing the Harris’ future and relevance for the next 100 years.

The new Harris Museum, at the heart of the Harris Quarter, will provide an innovative environment in which museum, library and art gallery collections and services are fused to provide one seamless, flexible and community-led hub.

Preston Youth Zone

Preston Youth Zone would be an individually designed, state-of-the-art facility for young people in Preston aged eight to 19 years old.

It would provide social, sporting and artistic spaces, including an all-weather pitch, a large sports hall, climbing wall, dance studio, music and multimedia suites, employability and enterprise rooms, a large recreation area and a subsidised café.

The project sponsor anticipates 4,000 to 5,000 young people would become members within the first year.


A view of how the cinema development may look
A view of how the cinema development may look

Animate is Preston’s new cinema and leisure scheme at the heart of the city centre. It will be located in the Harris Quarter, adjacent to the new Preston Markets and replaces the old indoor market and car park.

The project will create a cinema and a bowling alley, along with five new restaurants/bars, a food hub, a car park and a new public square.

Read more: Bowling alley added to Preston Markets cinema plans

Renewal of Harris Quarter Assets

Preston Guild Hall was closed as a venue and the parent firm placed into administration Pic: Tony Worrall
Preston Guild Hall Pic: Tony Worrall

Renewal of Harris Quarter Assets provides an opportunity to regenerate City Council-owned assets such as Amounderness House and Birley Street Annex, 10/12 Lancaster Road, 50/52 Lancaster Road, and The Guild Hall.

This represents a significant opportunity for the Harris Quarter, with a particular focus on supporting a variety of end uses, including cultural and community uses.

Harris Quarter Illuminate and Integrate

Harris Quarter Illuminate and Integrate aims to realise the full potential of the Harris Quarter’s buildings, streets and spaces by making the most of what is already there.

It includes the upgrading of the public realm on the southern section of
e from the Ringway up to the Flag Market, linked to the improvements to the northern section being funded through the Transforming Cities Fund.

Improvements to other key streets and open spaces in the Harris Quarter, building illumination, digital projections and better street lighting also form part of this project.

Animation of Public Spaces

Animation of Public Spaces will support the city centre’s public spaces that already play a key role in hosting events in the city centre.

This project will enable these spaces to be used more intensively throughout the year and provide capital investment to purchase event hosting infrastructure/kit which can be deployed at sites around the city centre.

Find virtual things to do below

City Centre Skills Spaces

City Centre Skills Spaces will provide a central location within a key building in the Harris Quarter/city centre which can be used to support a hub for the provision of skills and careers advisory services, particularly for young people, by local partners, including Preston’s College and Cardinal Newman College.

Young people and adults will be able to access careers and employment information and ultimately, the provision of education and training to support them into employment.

Cultural Capacity Building

Preston Carnival 2019
Preston Carnival 2019

Cultural Capacity Building has a focus on supporting all aspects of culture in the city, with particular emphasis on supporting local and community cultural organisations and their future activities and needs.

Preston plays a critical role as part of Lancashire’s cultural offer, hosting a wide range of events including its Caribbean and Mela festivals, as well as the Preston Guild.

Health and Wellbeing Capacity Building

Health and Wellbeing Capacity Building aims to improve health and wellbeing of communities across Preston.

The health effects of the Covid-19 crisis have particularly affected older people, BAME communities and those living in more deprived areas of cities, and this has further highlighted the need to tackle the underlying factors that lead to adverse health outcomes.

There is a strong health and care sector in the city, backed by a university with growing strengths in medical and health care teaching and technologies.

Services need to be organised and developed, alongside facilities that make the most of these capabilities and enable Preston to achieve sustained improvements in the mental and physical wellbeing of residents.

Read more: Emergency dental hub opens in Preston to help NHS cope with demand

What happens next

All 100 towns and cities including Preston are currently in Phase 1 of the Towns Fund process. During this phase, the Investment Plans are invited
for submission. Towns are not in competition with each other, and each has the chance to resubmit plans based on feedback from the Towns Fund Delivery Partners.

If successful, Preston’s City Investment Plan will move to Phase 2, where a detailed programme of projects and business cases will be developed. A decision from the Towns Hub to approve funding will take place at the end of this stage, a duration of approximately 12 months. Final projects will be agreed, and funding released, enabling towns to start projects.

Read moreSee the latest Preston news and headlines

What do you think of the projects put forward in the Towns Fund bid? Let us know in the comments below.

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