Preston ready to deliver boom in City Living culture

By Lancashire Business View

26 Apr 2017

Preston has unveiled a City Living strategy in a bid to attract inward investment from developers and investors with the full support of the public sector.

The city's leaders are aiming for a new wave of high quality residential development across the city centre and Cushman and Wakefield have produced a City Living Prospectus to support future investment.

The global real estate experts are advising Preston City Council on how to successfully deliver the kind of new homes people will want to buy, rent and live in, having worked in a similar capacity in Manchester for many years.

The strategy has crucially identified national, regional and local trends coming together to provide a solid platform for investment and the delivery of quality residential developments in the city.

Preston City Council, Lancashire County Council, Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal and the Homes and Communities Agency are all signed up to make residential development viable for land and building owners, developers and investors who are looking at residential development in Preston city centre.

Chris Hayward, director of development for Preston City Council says: “We are committed to delivering a step change in our residential offer and we are in a strong position to support developers who share our vision.

“Our city is full of opportunities for investors and we are already seeing major public/private initiatives taking place in the hotel and leisure sectors.

“We want to see the homes built for the people who want to live in the beating heart of the city and live, work and play in Preston.

“We will work with developers to support new investment in the city and help them access public and private sector finance opportunities.

“In terms of planning, Preston City Council and its partners have established a clear strategy to enable City Living to move quickly forward.

“We recognise the value of our architectural and heritage assets and open space and we want these to be the catalyst for high quality residential development.”

Caroline Baker, partner of Cushman and Wakefield in Manchester and the author behind the City Living Prospectus, says: “We have advised a number of cities, including Manchester, on the critical factors for creating a platform for residential investment.

“Manchester became the success it is today because of the public sector setting its vision and working hard to deliver it.

“The institutional investors bought into the vision and momentum has now been achieved. However, the initial impetus to build a vibrant city centre was underpinned by public sector vision, determination and public sector funding.

“Preston has enormous advantages – fantastic green spaces and parks, quality and improving public realm, beautiful historic buildings – and the intention of the public sector is to try to make development viable to drive the residential market and kick-start a city living boom.”

Preston city centre has been divided into districts designed to easily identify distinct areas of opportunity for different types of city living development:

The area around Winckley Square is an opportunity for high quality conversions and new builds and can be the catalyst to a new wave of city living which will support Preston to provide a better range of residential units both new and converted.

The Harris Quarter could deliver new apartments close to the city’s improving leisure offer – the new Markets Quarter, a boutique hotel in the Old Post office and the Guild Hall - with a higher density aimed at increasing footfall and spend in the city.

Stoneygate has been identified as an area for a range of new homes which will respond to success and investment in the Harris Quarter and Winckley Square and could attract young professionals and families.

The potential for HS2 coming to Preston could unlock a raft of development opportunities in the Station Gateway where an emerging new vision could see business and offices, retail, leisure and residential combine. Faster journey times between Preston and Manchester will also be available in 2018 with the electrification of the line.

This new area is linked to Corporation Street and the University Quarter and with more than 36,000 students there is scope to build upon the existing student village to offer a mix of accommodation for students, post graduates and young professionals supporting by a vibrant food and drink offer.

Nigel Roberts is responsible for city development at Preston City Council and will be delivering the City Living Strategy for Preston. He is keen to engage with developers and investors who want to explore the opportunities in the city’s sites and buildings.

He says: “We have identified a number of existing sites that are ready to be developed and will continue to work with partners, public and private, to ensure there is an appropriate pipeline of opportunities to support our aspirations.

“We have land and will work with partners to ensure funding resources are in place and we are committed to using our statutory powers to unlock stalled sites where required.

“Developers and investors can also use us to access detailed analysis of the market to support our aspirations.

“Our existing stock and opportunity sites provide scope for a wide range of residential investment opportunities for sale or rent, private and social, houses and apartments, new builds and conversions.

“Preston can offer an attractive affordable alternative to Manchester and Liverpool, a compact vibrant city well connected to employment and leisure opportunities.”

The Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal, signed in 2013, has seen the launch of a new £100m investment fund, created by Lancashire County Council Pension Fund.

Investments managed on behalf of local government pension schemes are being made in commercial projects in the City Deal area. A Government-backed Housing Zone in the city centre will support the delivery of urban sites.

Jim Carter, chair of the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal, says: “This is a powerful incentive for commercial developers to deliver housing and other wealth-creating schemes.

“£51m has already been invested or earmarked for a range of commercial, leisure and residential projects in the City Deal area. “The City Living Strategy clearly sets out the attributes Preston already offers as a place to live and the opportunities for investors and developers to work with us to deliver new homes across the city centre.”

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