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An update on Preston’s £20.9m Towns Fund award one year on

Posted on - 30th March, 2022 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Arts, Business, Preston City Centre, Preston Council, Preston News, Recreation, Redevelopment, What's On in Preston
Artist Chris Dorning and his mural at the back of the Black A Moor Head pub Pic: Garry Cook
Chris Dorning and his Paint Preston mural at the back of the Black A Moor Head pub Pic: Garry Cook

In March 2021, Preston was awarded £20.9m from the government’s Towns Fund to support the regeneration of the Harris Quarter.

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The programme includes redevelopment of the area surrounding the HarrisPreston Marketsthe Guild Hall and the Bus Station between 2021 and 2026.

Since then the £10.02m Harris Your Place project has been started, to make the Grade I listed building the UK’s first blended museum featuring a community-led programme of exhibitions, activities and events.

The work began thanks in part to Towns Fund investment, alongside support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and other grants.

Read more: The Harris awarded £803k in government funding as revamp work continues

New proposed site for Preston Youth Zone between Lord Street and Tithebarn Street in Preston city centre Pic: Blog Preston
New proposed site for Preston Youth Zone between Lord Street and Tithebarn Street in Preston city centre Pic: Blog Preston

On 9 December, a new location for a Preston Youth Zone was agreed by Preston City Council. The city centre site sits near the Bus Station, off Lord Street, which meets the need for the development to be easy to access via public transport.

National charity OnSide has been working with local Preston partners to create the independent run Youth Zone, which will provide skills, career and employment advice to young people in the city.

The state-of-the art facilities will include a four-court sports hall, 3G outdoor kick pitch, a gym, boxing and martial arts rooms music room with a built in recording studio, arts and crafts area, climbing wall, dance studio, sensory room, teaching kitchen and rooms to deliver projects on employability.

Read more: Preston city centre location approved for new Preston Youth Zone

Pop up venues are also part of the Towns Fund project to help put money back into arts and culture in the area. The aim is to encourage visitors back into the city after the pandemic, driving footfall and supporting the economy.

The development of a Mobile Event Tent (MET) is one of five pop up projects and is using £500,000 of the government funding. The MET was originally planned to be open on the site of the former indoor market from July, but is behind schedule due to ‘a series of setbacks’.

Read more: Preston events rearranged as £500,000 Mobile Event Tent falls behind schedule

One pop up project that has been delivered through £1m of initial funding from the Towns Fund is the Wallace and Gromit bench that was unveiled by the animated duo’s creator and Oscar-winner Nick Park in September.

Preston City Council hopes the statue based on the cheese-loving inventor and his loyal companion as they appeared in The Wrong Trousers outside Preston Markets near Orchard Street will be a hotspot for visitors.

Read more: Preston reacts to the unveiling of Wallace and Gromit bench

Nick Park relaxing with Wallace and Gromit Pic: Lisa Brown
Nick Park relaxing with Wallace and Gromit Pic: Lisa Brown

The Towns Fund Board is on the lookout for buildings in Preston to paint murals on as two new street art pieces have proved popular among locals.

A tribute to the Guild Wheel cycle route and its creator, former Preston councillor Peter Ward MBE, was painted by local artist and co-founder of Paint Preston Gavin Renshaw in October.

Read more: Gavin Renshaw’s first Paint Preston mural spotted on Boltons Court

The second Paint Preston mural produced in March by Chris Dorning pays homage to the city and sits at the back of the Black A Moor Head pub in Old Vicarage Street.

Read more: Second Paint Preston mural unveiled at back of city centre pub

In August, a funding deal of £40m was approved by councillors for Preston’s multi-million-pound cinema and leisure complex called Animate.

Located on the site of the former indoor market, the development will feature an eight-screen cinema and bowling alley along with five new restaurants and bars, a street-food hub, a car park, and new public square.

On 8 December, the first tenant was confirmed as Hollywood Bowl. The venue will feature 16 fully computerised bowling lanes with plush seating, plus a bar, diner and amusement area.

Read more: Hollywood Bowl announced as first tenant of Animate cinema and leisure complex

This scheme is expected to bring growth and development to the city centre as well as bringing in over £7m of extra economic activity every year while creating 140 full time equivalent jobs.


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