Preston and South Ribble plans within £50m ‘Levelling Up’ bid

Posted on - 7th August, 2022 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Friargate, Moor Park, Parks, Penwortham, Politics, Preston Bus Station, Preston City Centre, Preston Council, Preston News, Redevelopment, South Ribble Locations, South Ribble News, UCLan, University campus
Preston's skyline along the River Ribble Pic: Tony Worrall
Preston’s skyline along the River Ribble Pic: Tony Worrall

Preston and South Ribble have launched bids for the Levelling Up Fund as part of a county council request seeking £50m for ‘exciting projects’.


Preston City Council’s bid focuses on two themes, ‘transport and culture’, covering Friargate South, Queen Street, Avenham Lane, Old Tram Bridge, Preston Bus Station, and Waverley, Moor, Ashton, and Grange Parks, with plans set to offer ‘many benefits’ to local residents.

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The bid, called ‘Active Preston’, is for £20 million from the Round 2 Levelling Up Fund, with the bid projects focused on the regeneration of Preston‘s four main parks and investment in its active travel infrastructure through packaged projects costing £24m, delivered in a ‘joined-up way’.

South Ribble Borough Council’s bid covers proposals across two sites to create ‘new-look public spaces’ in Penwortham and a new sporting complex at Vernon Carus.

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Friargate South. Pic: Preston City Council

Councillor Martyn Rawlinson, the deputy leader of Preston City Council, said: “The bid put together has been designed to ensure the best possible outcome for Preston and its residents.

“It will bring real opportunities and quality of life, health and well-being benefits.

“The proposals could be transformational for people across the city, particularly for most of our more deprived communities.

“The investments will provide top-class sports and recreation facilities for all our residents, but it will particularly benefit those communities where deprivation and poor health is highest, which are in close proximity to the parks.”

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The Old Tram Bridge
The Old Tram Bridge. Pic: Tony Worrall

Rawlinson said the focus is on encouraging ‘healthy activity’ through sport, leisure and play, increasing the use of the parks, improving new community facilities and making it easier for people to walk and cycle.

The council said Lancashire County Council, Preston City Council and several national and local organisations would meet the remaining £4 million funding.

The government announced Round 2 in March 2022.

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Preston Bus Station at night Pic: Tony Worrall
Preston Bus Station area Pic: Tony Worrall

Bids could cover capital building projects, including transport projects, regeneration and cultural investment.

The council said to develop the bid, they engaged with and gained the support of key city stakeholders and responded to calls from the community about what they viewed as priorities.

The bid contributes to Preston’s City Investment Plan (CIP) ambitions for a ‘healthier, more inclusive, liveable and sustainably connected’ city.

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A view of Moor Park Pic: Tony Worrall
Moor Park Pic: Tony Worrall

The themes for Preston’s bid are:

Transport – investment in new and enhanced works to improve the active travel infrastructure in the city, including:

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  • Segregated cycling and major public realm works at Friargate South and segregated routes along Queen Street/Avenham Lane
  • Building a new cycle/footbridge to replace the Old Tram Bridge
  • Building a new mobility hub to provide a secure cycling facility at Preston bus station.

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A sea of colour in Ashton Park Pic: Tony Worrall
A sea of colour in Ashton Park Pic: Tony Worrall

The council also seeks funding for cultural investment in four major city parks: Waverley Park, Moor Park, Ashton Park and Grange Park. 

The proposals involve the delivery of new, higher quality and more accessible sports/community facilities and pitches, pavilions, public realm and heritage safety and infrastructure improvements.

The Parks Regeneration and Improvement project

Proposals include a community sports hub with a new sports pavilion and pitches at Ashton Park and the completion of the second phase of heritage restoration work at Grade II Moor Park, including work on the lake and bridge.

Further proposals include the development of community and sports facilities at Waverley Park and accessibility and lighting improvements to support the re-opening of a building for community use at Grange Park.

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Grange Park
Grange Park Pic: Joseph Hall

The Active Travel infrastructure proposal

The proposal involves new and enhanced works to create a joined-up network of safer, greener, walking and cycling connections that link housing, parks, schools, colleges, shopping and employment areas across the city and neighbouring districts.

The plans include improving routes for pedestrians and cyclists, including a new bridge over the River Ribble to replace the Old Tram bridge.

Other proposals involve environmental improvements, with a segregated cycle lane at Friargate South, along Queen Street/Avenham Lane, and a new facility for secure cycle parking at Preston Bus Station.

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UCLan's Student Centre and University Square
UCLan’s Student Centre and University Square

The funding would improve connectivity for cyclists to key employment sites, including the city centre, Lancashire Central, Salmesbury (and the planned National Cyber Force campus), and the UCLan campus.

The council said the bid proposals would create a ‘more active, sustainable and healthier Preston’, which will ‘complement the growth of the city’ and its neighbouring boroughs within the Central Lancashire region.

The council hopes to hear if it has been successful in the autumn.


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Looking down Fishergate in Preston city centre Pic: Tony Worrall
Looking down Fishergate in Preston city centre Pic: Tony Worrall

County Councillor Phillippa Williamson, the leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “We’re making the case to the government that by taking a combined approach to these bids, we can maximise their impact.

“Each of the bids has the power to transform local areas, and they have the power to create a network of jobs, improvements and opportunities that will benefit everyone in Lancashire.”

“I am so passionate about how we can all work together, and the county council has also offered in-principle funding support to six district council bids to increase their chances of success.

“Lancashire’s leaders believe we can, should and must work together to ensure Lancashire and everyone in it can reach their full potential.

“We want everyone in the county to be able to access opportunities that will harness their individual talents so that everyone in Lancashire can live their best life.”

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Lancashire’s 15 council leaders united to support all of the bids submitted to the Levelling Up Fund, with 11 made for ‘exciting and transformative projects’ across the county with a combined value of nearly half a billion pounds.

In a joint letter to the government, the leaders said the proposals benefit the individual councils and have the power to ‘radically redefine’ Lancashire’s prospects for the future.

It is the latest stage in a level of political cooperation in the county ‘never seen before’ and comes ahead of the leaders unveiling a long-term plan for the county.

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Councillor Lynn Williams, the leader of Blackpool Council, said: “Blackpool is hoping to be able to build on the £39.5m ‘Town Deal’ funding we were awarded in March and will be submitting a second round Levelling Up Fund bid.

“Lancashire is a large and closely connected county, so the opportunity to make a difference across a large footprint is significant.

“The opportunities gained from a bid will benefit the people of Blackpool and the Fylde Coast and will be felt across the county.

“These bids will be a key driver for economic growth, job creation and training for all those that live and work in Lancashire.”  

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Lancashire’s 11 bids focus on three themes – transport, regeneration and culture.

The leaders urged the government to award them all to make a ‘visible and positive difference’ to local areas.

It is the second round of funding after the first round saw £1.7bn awarded to 105 successful projects, including some in Lancashire.

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Councillor Phil Riley, the leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “I’m proud to be fronting our compelling Levelling Up Fund bids in Blackburn with Darwen and contributing to an exciting round of proposals across Lancashire.

“Our bids have the potential to bring impressive change, unlocking significant opportunities that could be truly transformational – not only for our borough – but the whole of Lancashire.”

Cllr Alistair Bradley spoke on behalf of Lancashire’s 12 district council leaders.

Cllr Bradley said: “It’s more important than ever that we as local authorities work together to get what’s best for our residents.

“We think it’s important that the government listens to what those in Lancashire are telling them.

“If all the schemes are delivered, it will help transform Lancashire’s fortunes and give a better return rather than having a piecemeal approach to government funding across the county.”

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The Levelling Up Fund is a £4.8bn fund aimed at infrastructure projects that make a ‘visible impact’ on people and communities.

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