A growing sense of culture

Preston has been awarded £20.9m from the government’s Towns Fund for a series of ambitious regeneration projects within the city’s emerging Harris Quarter.

The funding will support redevelopment projects highlighted within the Preston City Investment Plan (CIP), which sets out a bold 15-year vision and strategy to transform the city centre.

The cash includes £1m the city had already secured from the fund for its Harris Quarter pop-ups project, which aims to attract more people into the heart of Preston.

The Harris Quarter includes the buildings, public spaces and streets surrounding The Harris Museum, Preston Markets, The Guild Hall and the bus station.

The projects in the CIP look to breathe new life into its heritage assets, key buildings and open spaces to create a diverse culture, leisure and employment offering, strengthening the city centre as Preston recovers from the pandemic.

Projects that will benefit from the funding include the refurbishment of the Grade I listed Harris museum, art gallery and library. The plan to make the iconic building a world class cultural attraction and community hub have also benefited from National Lottery cash.

The Towns Fund will also support the delivery of a new cinema and leisure attraction with food and drink venues, and a public square, next to the refurbished Preston Markets.

There will be investment to support the redevelopment of publicly owned buildings in the quarter, again to support new cultural and community uses. Prestons Youth Zone is also back on the agenda.

John Chesworth, who chairs Preston Partnership and the Preston Towns Fund board, says: The award is really positive news as we look not only to come out of the pandemic but to revitalise the city centre.

The general theme is the improvement of our cultural assets. In the Harris Quarter we have got real potential.

Our pandemic recovery plan needs to give people different reasons to come into the city and the area around the museum and the markets will become a focus for our activity to build that offering.

He adds: The City Investment Plan that underpins this funding sets out a 15-year vision for improving the city centre to attract more residents, workers, students, visitors, and investors, making it a more inclusive location for everyone.

“The projects within the plan will not just regenerate buildings and public spaces, they will strengthen our leisure and cultural offering, creating jobs and economic growth.

They will enable the city centre to have a thriving day and night-time economy which will be vital in the years ahead.

The CIP also considers how the Harris Quarter regeneration links up with Preston’s other major regeneration projects, such as the masterplans for Stoneygate, the Station Quarter and the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

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