Preston has been awarded £20.9m from the government’s Towns Fund for a series of city centre regeneration projects, including a previously-scrapped Youth Zone.Advertisement
The funding, announced as part of the Chancellor’s budget, will support redevelopment in the area surrounding the Harris, Preston Markets, the Guild Hall and the Bus Station, known as the Harris Quarter.
The development of Preston Youth Zone will see a state-of-the-art facility created for young people in Preston aged eight to 19.
The news comes two years after Lancashire County Council confirmed it had shelved plans to provide the facility.
Read more: End of the road for Preston Youth Zone plans
The projects set to receive funding are all highlighted in the new Preston City Investment Plan (CIP), which sets out a 15-year vision and strategy to strengthen the city as it recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.
In addition to the Preston Youth Zone, projects that will benefit from the funding include:
The funding includes the £1m Preston had already secured from the Towns Fund for its Harris Quarter Pop-Ups project, which is aimed at attracting more residents and visitors into the city centre.
Read more: £1m funding for Harris Quarter pop-up events, visitor attractions and street food markets
The city’s bid for support from the Towns Fund was led by the Preston Partnership whose members include local businesses, organisations and individuals passionate about the growth and development of Preston.
The next stage will see the Preston Partnership and Preston City Council developing detailed business cases for the individual projects, as well as liaising with potential occupiers, applying for relevant planning permissions, and starting the process of appointing contractors.
John Chesworth, chair of Preston Partnership and the Preston Towns Fund board, said: “This money from the Towns Fund is fantastic news for our city. The City Investment Plan that underpins this funding sets out a 15-year vision for improving the city centre to attract more residents, workers, students, visitors, and investors, making it a more inclusive location for everyone.
“The projects within the plan will not just regenerate buildings and public spaces, they will strengthen our leisure and cultural offering, creating jobs and economic growth. They will enable the city centre to have a thriving day and night-time economy which will be vital in the years ahead.
“While we started creating the City Investment Plan and our funding bid before the pandemic, these projects will now be even more vital to our recovery from this crisis which has deeply impacted our residents and businesses. It will continue the positive flow of change through Preston, making a significant, long-term contribution to our city’s recovery and prosperity.”
Read more: Have your say on Preston’s City Investment Plan
Councillor Matthew Brown, Leader of Preston City Council, said: “What’s really important to us about the regeneration of Preston is that it is guided by the people and businesses living and working here, so we’re really proud of the way the City Investment Plan and the Preston Towns Fund bid has been developed and led by the Preston Partnership.
“It provides a long-term vision for making the Harris Quarter a vibrant and exciting part of the city with a world-class business, leisure and cultural proposition that can enrich the lives of Preston residents and build community wealth and shared prosperity.”
The CIP also considers how the Harris Quarter regeneration links up with Preston’s other major regeneration projects, such as the masterplans for Stoneygate, the Station Quarter and UCLan.
The Towns Fund is a £3.6 billion fund established by the government to level up towns and cities around the country. In September 2019, 100 towns and cities in England were invited to put forward proposals for funding from the Towns Fund.
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What do you think of the funding? Let us know in the comments.