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Former Preston Police HQ set for high-rise student flats

Posted on - 2nd June, 2023 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Business, Friargate, Preston City Centre, Preston Council, Preston News, Redevelopment, University campus
CGI - view from Walker Street looking South-East Pic: Falconer Chester Hall
CGI – view from Walker Street looking South-East Pic: Falconer Chester Hall

More than 200 student flats are set to be built on part of Preston’s former divisional police headquarters.

Preston City Council planning officers have recommended that councillors give the go-ahead to the scheme – at the junction of Walker Street and Lawson Street, to the rear of the magistrates’ and crown courts.

If they do, it would mark the final stage in the redevelopment of the city’s old police base, 15 years after it was shut down.

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The main building that used to house the custody suite and offices was converted into other student accommodation – known as Lawson Halls – after permission was granted back in 2013.

The part of the plot where the new ‘studio apartments’ would be erected – 227 in total – is currently occupied by a multi-level public car park, accessed from Saul Street, which has been operated as a pay and display facility by Chorley-based Parking Eye for the last nine years.

The application – from Caro Developments Ltd – proposes the creation of an L-shaped building, with seven storeys fronting Walker Street, rising to nine levels close to the corner of Sizehouse Street, before returning to seven floors along its remaining boundary.

CGI - Aerial view looking South Pic: Falconer Chester Hall
CGI – Aerial view looking South Pic: Falconer Chester Hall

A report to be presented to committee members notes that the 2013 permission actually gave approval not only for the conversion of the former police building, but the erection of a new block on the car park. While that has never been implemented, it remains a live permission that the applicant could take advantage of at any time.

Although the latest proposed new-build is slightly different in terms of its design and layout, the scale of the planned development is described as “similar”.

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The new blueprint for the accommodation includes a gym, cinema room, landscaped roof terrace and communal and study spaces, while there would also be parking provided for 150 bicycles.

The majority of the trees surrounding the site – along Lawson Street and Walker Street – would be retained, although two would have to be removed on the latter in order to make way for a new pedestrian entrance.

New landscape planting is proposed around the front of the plot and a “rain garden” is planned at the shared boundary with Lawson Halls, which would include wetland grasses and wildflowers

For objections have been lodged – including one which warns that the scheme could jeopardise the future development of a temporary surface-level car park at the junction of Walker Street and Sizehouse Street and another claiming that the proposed new buildings would interfere with the TV signal of residential properties in the area.

Councillors will hear the plans during the next planning committee meeting on Thursday 8 June.

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