The Friends of Harris Park have urged Preston City Council to consider using the government’s Levelling Up Fund to bring the site back into community use.Advertisement
In a letter to Councillor David Borrow, founder member of the group Prema Taylor says the Harris Park owner has indicated he would be willing to sell the site so it may be restored and returned to use for the benefit of the community.
The letter continues: “We note that the Council are in the process of considering various projects to be included in their application for a grant from the Levelling Up Fund. We would be obliged if you would consider Harris Park as part of this application.
“There are several ways in which the site could be repurposed and turned into a self supporting project. If you were willing, we could discuss details which will demonstrate that this is not just wishful thinking but a serious attempt to balance the need for progress and income with preservation of local history.”
Harris Park has been an area of some interest for a while with the Friends of Harris Park campaign to preserve the former orphanage leading to housing plans on the site to be blocked.
Read more: Harris Park housing plans blocked by Preston City Council as campaigners declare victory
In response to the request, Councillor David Borrow, Cabinet Member for Planning and Regulation, said: “In 2021 government published a Levelling Up Fund prospectus. The fund is focussed on investment in projects that require up to £20m of funding with projects needing to be completed by 2025. The prospectus sets out that there will be a number of bidding rounds for the Levelling Up Fund.
“This is an opportunity for Preston, with the city being named as one of 124 priority places in England eligible for capacity funding to work up bids from Round 2 onwards. The call for bids under Round 2 has not been announced yet but is expected in the next few months.
“As this funding can be utilised for a range of projects it is important that we consider the different priorities and schemes for Preston, including high street regeneration, local transport and health projects that could all benefit from this funding. A long list will be drawn up initially and Harris Park will be considered alongside many other potential projects.
“We acknowledge and understand there is local interest in the Harris Park site. However, as only 32 per cent of bids at Round 1 were successful, careful consideration needs to be given to choose the right bid, to make sure that it has a good chance of success, as well as fitting in with the priorities of the Council and the City’s Investment Plan.”
Former City Councillor Daniel Dewhurst recently began a similar campaign to reopen the Old Tram Bridge.
Opinion: Levelling Up Fund presents game-changing opportunity to reopen Old Tram Bridge
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Do you think Harris Park should be restored for the benefit of the community? Let us know in the comments.