Preston City Centre is evolving with many new + exciting attractions arising throughout the city. Within the past 24 months, it has witnessed the purchase of the Guild Hall by a local businessman and investor, with Councillors claiming that it would be unsustainable for the Council to continue to run the building.
Back in 2002, the historic town of Preston in Lancashire which calls itself “Proud Preston” won the coveted prize of ‘Golden City Status’ after beating off 26 other English contenders as part of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee year. Preston “proudly” based its bid on several factors including the local history, being home to the seventh largest University in England, housing the largest bus station in Europe and its central UK location.
From being awarded the ‘City Status’, the UK was then hit with an economic crisis and in mid-2007, the country plunged into recession which had a detrimental impact on Preston and its surrounding areas. Preston witnessed the closure of many high-street chains including Woolworths, British Home Stores + TJ Hughes, not to mention the relocation of the City’s beloved National Football Museum from its home at Deepdale to the Urbis Centre in Manchester.
Since the recession both the Council and businesses within the area are working tirelessly trying to improve the city attractiveness and offer a retail and leisure experience comparable to neighbouring cities, Manchester and Liverpool.
Plans are currently underway to improve the access into Preston. The Council are in the process of amending the road layout through the centre to be friendlier to pedestrians, installing larger pathways and limiting vehicular access through the centre. Work is also underway in Winckley Square to restore the garden look of the square. These works are taking place through a Lottery Funded Heritage Scheme of which a budget of £1.2m has been obtained.
In April 2016, it was reported that plans had been submitted for the redevelopment of the Markets Quarter in Preston. The proposals are to include a new 11-screen cinema, various family restaurants and a multi-storey car park. This proposal will bring a large amount of new long term jobs as well as construction jobs during the construction phases of the development.
October 2016 saw the next steps being progressed for development at the proposed Cuerden Strategic Site situated at the start of the M65 near Lostock Hall. Plans have been unveiled proposing 100,000 square metres of new office and industrial units as well as 150 new homes. Recent reports suggest that Home Furnishings giant, IKEA is named as the flagship store at this new development. This proposal will create over 4,000 jobs in the community and is part of the Preston and South Ribble City Deal consisting of a £430m investment in infrastructure for the area.
Early November 2016, saw the green light given to long-running plans to create a tramway project into Preston. A pilot proposal has been passed to reinstate the former Longridge to Preston railway line reinstated in Deepdale. Lewis Lesley, technical director of Preston Trampower claims: “Bringing trams back to Preston after more than 80 years was always going to be an ambitious undertaking, but hopefully this planning consent can lead to bigger and better things in the future.”
According to reports detailed in The Guardian Newspaper, Preston is the best city in the North-West of England to live and work in. Based upon the proposed schemes listed, prospective career opportunities and an increase in the economy, residents of the city will be happy to be living and working in “Proud Preston”.