A total of 31 projects, with a total funding need of £58 million, were put forward for the Towns Fund plan. Some projects were already existing ideas, others came forward from engagement and consultation activities from the Towns Fund Strategic Board.
Each project sponsor was required to complete a standard project outline in order for independent assessors to rank each project against the critical success factors. The findings of this independent assessment were then endorsed by the Towns Fund Board.
For an overview of the short-listing process and the sort of success factors the board were basing their decisions on see what is the Towns Fund?
The following projects have been put forward to the Towns Fund bid. They complement each other by reinvigorating our city centre and will bring richness of life to the people of Preston.
Re-imagining the Harris is a major investment in the Grade I listed Harris Museum, Art Gallery & Library. It is one of the most ambitious cultural projects in the north of England, securing the Harris' future and relevance for the next 100 years. The new Harris Museum, at the heart of the Harris Quarter, will provide an innovative environment in which museum, library and art gallery collections and services are fused to provide one seamless, flexible and community-led hub.
Preston Youth Zone would be an individually designed, state of the art facility for young people in Preston aged 8-19 years. The Youth Zone is being established with the simple aim to 'provide young people with 'somewhere to go, something to do and someone to talk to'. Preston Youth Zone would provide social, sporting and artistic spaces, including an all-weather pitch, large sports hall, climbing wall, dance studio, music and multimedia suites, employability and enterprise rooms, a large recreation area and subsidised café. The project sponsor anticipates 4000-5000 young people would become members within the first year.
Animate is Preston's new cinema and leisure scheme at the heart of the city centre. It will be located in the Harris Quarter adjacent to the new Preston Markets and replaces the old indoor market and car park. The project will create a cinema and bowling alley, along with five new restaurants/ bars, a food hub, a car park and new public square.
Renewal of Harris Quarter Assets provides an opportunity to regenerate City Council-owned assets such as Amounderness House and Birley Street Annex,, 10/12 Lancaster Road, 50/52 Lancaster Road, and The Guildhall. This represents a significant opportunity for the Harris Quarter, with a particular focus on supporting a variety of end uses, including cultural and community uses.
Harris Quarter Illuminate and Integrate aims to realise the full potential of the Harris Quarter's buildings, streets and spaces by making the most of what is already there. It includes the upgrading of the public realm on the southern section of Friargate from Ring Way up to the Flag Market, linked to the improvements to the northern section being funded through the Transforming Cities Fund. Improvements to other key streets and open spaces in the Harris Quarter, building illumination, digital projections and better street lighting also form part of this project.
Animation of Public Spaces will support the city centre's stunning public spaces that already play a key role in hosting events in the city centre. This project will enable these spaces to be used more intensively throughout the year and provide capital investment to purchase event hosting infrastructure/kit which can be deployed at sites around the city centre.
City Centre Skills Spaces will provide a central location within a key building in the Harris Quarter/city centre which can be used to support a hub for the provision of skills and careers advisory services, particularly for young people, by local partners - including Preston's College and Cardinal Newman College. Young people and adults will be able to access outstanding Careers and Employment, Information, Advice and Guidance and ultimately, the provision of Education and Training which supports them into employment.
Cultural Capacity Building has a focus on supporting all aspects of culture in the city, with particular emphasis on supporting local and community cultural organisations and their future activities and needs. Preston plays a critical role as part of Lancashire's cultural offer, hosting a wide range of events including its Caribbean and Mela festivals, as well as the Preston Guild.
Health and Wellbeing Capacity Building has much to do, to improve health and wellbeing of our communities across Preston. The health effects of the COVID-19 crisis have particularly affected older people, BAME communities and those living in more deprived areas of cities, and this has further highlighted the need to tackle the underlying factors that lead to adverse health outcomes. We have a strong health and care sector in the city, backed by a university with growing strengths in medical and health care teaching and technologies. We need to organise and develop services and facilities that make the most of these capabilities and enable us to achieve sustained improvements in the mental and physical wellbeing of our residents.
The Towns Fund Board would welcome further discussion regarding projects not in the shortlist to explore how these may be supported within Preston's 15-year City Investment Plan.