Plans submitted for revival of historic Preston building

By Tim Aldred

24 Jun 2024

Harris Institute

A planning application has been submitted to Preston City Council to bring the Grade II-listed Harris Institute back to life.

The Institute is on Historic England’s At Risk Register and has been empty for almost a decade. 

The building's current owners, The Harris Investment Group, hope to fully refurbish it and have applied for a change of use for coworking and exhibition space, an art shop and gallery and conference and café facilities.

The application also includes the conversation of Regent House to nine holiday let and a new courtyard and improved access.

The building was originally opened in 1849 and was later funded by benefactor Edmund Robert Harris who stipulated that it should be used for educational purposes.

Its original title was the Preston Institution for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. In recent years it became the Harris School of Art and then the Darul Aloom Islamic Institution.

The owners are engaging with Historic England and exploring opportunities for funding bids to support the building’s restoration.

Studio John Bridge Architects are leading the project with Gately Smithers Purlow Heritage Specialists, Eden Planning for planning consultancy and cost analysis from The QS Company.

Speaking about the application submission John Bridge, the architect for the scheme said: “We were delighted with the response to our public consultation last year and recognise that there is a significant amount of interest across the city in the building’s restoration.

"As a Prestonian myself, I’m proud to be working with The Harris Investment Group on this exciting project. The site in its current form is very much a blank canvas and we are still open to new and fresh ideas about the building’s future."

Enjoyed this? Read more from Tim Aldred

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