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The Harris announces new reopening date in Spring 2025

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The Harris, a cherished cultural institution in the heart of Preston, has announced a significant update regarding its reopening plans for the Harris Your Place project.

In collaboration with the main contractors, Conlon Construction Ltd, The Harris has taken the proactive step of extending the reopening date to Spring 2025.

This adjustment in the reopening timeline is driven by uncovering the secrets of a 130-year-old heritage building.

During construction work, The Harris has revealed additional fire protection works, large-scale asbestos removal, and boiler replacements now necessary to preserve the Grade I listed building to ensure a safe and exceptional visitor experience on reopening.

Michael Conlon, Chairman of Conlon Construction, said: “Together with Preston City Council and designers, we have an outstanding project team. We’re all committed to delivering an exceptional visitor experience that honours one of our city’s most culturally significant landmarks.

“It’s a rare privilege to act as custodians during the restoration of such an important Grade I listed building. As has often been the case in our experience with numerous heritage projects, the 130-year-old building has revealed some hidden secrets. These will require careful and sympathetic attention to ensure its preservation for future generations.

“The final result will be remarkable, and we’re all focused on ensuring ‘The Harris’, known and loved by the people of Preston, continues to play a crucial role in the city’s future.”

Councillor Peter Kelly, Cabinet Member for Arts and Culture at Preston City Council, spoke in support of this decision, stating: “The Council fully supports The Harris’ decision to extend the reopening date. We recognise the importance of preserving our cultural heritage, and this extension ensures that the necessary work can be completed to the highest standards.

“We appreciate the public’s continued support and patience as we work diligently ensure a long and ambitious future, accessible for all.”

County Councillor Peter Buckley, Cabinet Member for Community and Cultural Services highlighted the provision of the Preston Harris Library service and I.T. Centre will remain open to the public, at the Harris’ Home from Home in the Guild Hall.

“The library service continues at the Guild Hall, which has already issued in excess of 43,000 library items and seen 51,000 visitors to the library and I.T. Centre since January this year.”

In addition to the preservation efforts, The Harris acknowledges previous plans for an additional lift and the challenges in accommodating it within existing foundations.

With the additional lift removed from the project design, The Harris is working on a comprehensive set of access improvements to benefit a wider range of visitors to address accessibility, drawing on the experience of project access consultants Direct Access.

The new public stairwell and circulation point remain integral to these as do the new changing place facility and accessible toilets efforts.

Visit the Harris Museum website for more information about the Harris Your Place project.

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Planning permission granted for Preston Youth Zone

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National youth charity, OnSide has received planning approval for a new Youth Zone in Preston. The state-of-the-art youth centre will provide young people with opportunities to engage in activities and access support from skilled youth workers, helping them to develop their skills and reach their full potential.

Expected to open in 2025, the Youth Zone will be located in the town centre on the corner of Crooked Lane and Tithebarn Street. Preston Youth Zone will be open to young people aged 8-19, and up to 25 for those with additional needs, 7 days a week.

For just £5 annual membership, plus 50p per visit, young people will have access to world class facilities including a four-court sports hall, rooftop 3G outdoor kick pitch, gym and boxing and martial arts room for sports, as well as a music room with a built-in recording studio, arts and crafts area, climbing wall, dance studio, sensory room, and mentoring kitchen.

The Youth Zone will deliver skills and employability workshops in a dedicated enterprise and employability suite, as well as a wide range of programmes, services and activities. Hot, nutritious meals will be available for just £1 from the Youth Zone’s café.

In addition to the incredible facilities, trained youth workers and dedicated volunteers will be available seven days a week to offer guidance and support to help Preston’s young people to thrive. It will create a number of full and part-time jobs and many volunteering opportunities.

Preston Youth Zone is being delivered by OnSide, in partnership with Preston City Council and Preston Towns Fund Board who will be contributing towards the building and running costs. In March it was confirmed that the Youth Zone will receive a grant from the DCMS’ Youth Investment Fund which means all of the building costs have now been secured and focus will turn to raising the remainder of the running costs which will come from private sector and philanthropic donations.

It will join the OnSide network of 14 similar Youth Zones supporting over 50,000 young people with locations in Bolton, Blackburn, Carlisle, Wigan, Manchester, Oldham, Wolverhampton, Wirral, Chorley, Warrington, Barking and Dagenham, Barnet, Croydon and East Manchester.

While OnSide will develop and oversee the build of the Youth Zone, once open it will be run as an independent, local charity with a private-sector-led board.

Guy Topping, Preston Youth Zone Chair said: “This is an important milestone in the Preston Youth Zone journey and exciting news for young people living in Preston and beyond. Preston Youth Zone is a local, inspirational charity that will provide thousands of young people with access to activities, opportunities, and support from trusted youth workers.

“So much hard work has gone into getting us to this point and I want to thank everybody who has helped make this dream a reality”.

Councillor David Borrow, Cabinet Member for Planning and Regulation at Preston City Council said: “This is a major step forward for the project and will be a fantastic boost for youth services in the city. There has been nowhere for our young people to go before now and with a wide variety of sports and art activities, educational and skills support on offer, all at low cost, there will be something for everyone.

“Youth Zones in other towns and cities across the country have had a huge positive benefit and we can’t wait for construction to finally get underway. It is testament to the dedication and hard work of all involved who have turned the vision into reality.”

John Chesworth, Chair of Preston Towns Fund Board, said: “The Youth Zone will be a fantastic asset for young people in Preston. Not only will it provide a place for young people to go, but it’ll also provide a vital function in providing practical support, advice and guidance to help young people plan for their future.

“Preston Youth Zone is one of six key projects that we are delivering within Harris Quarter, which we are confident will be the catalyst for Preston’s wider renaissance and bring additional investment into the City.”

Councillor Jennifer Mein, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing at Preston City Council concluded: “The Youth Zone will play an important role in building community cohesion and providing our young people with access to vital support services that’ll help with mental health and general wellbeing.

“In addition, it’ll also ensure our young people remain fit and healthy. It’ll give them access to a wide range of sporting activities that are shown to help bring people together. It’s impact will be far ranging.”

Nick Temple, CEO for Social Investment Business said: “The Youth Investment Fund is enabling more young people to benefit from the life-changing impact of youth work across England, giving them the best opportunities to thrive.

“It’s hugely exciting to see the Onside Preston Youth Zone project coming to life, it’s one of the first projects to benefit from the Youth Investment Fund. With planning secured, it means a brand-new youth centre is now in sight. It’s an exciting day for young people across Preston, who can look forward to exciting new opportunities to help expand their horizons, have fun, and develop vital skills for life.”

Local young people will have the opportunity to get involved in helping to shape their new Youth Zone. Working in partnership with the council and existing providers, OnSide will set up a Young People’s Development Group of local young people who will meet regularly to make key decisions for the Youth Zone, including supporting with the design and branding, and interviewing potential staff members.

For further updates on progress visit  Onside Youth Zones.

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New £207m motorway junction and link road to open in Preston

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A major new £207m road scheme linking parts of Preston and the Fylde Coast to the M55 motorway, will open to the public from Monday 3 July.

Edith Rigby Way, the longest and most significant road in the Preston Western Distributor project, links the A583 Blackpool Road and Riversway with the new junction – the ‘missing’ junction 2 – on the M55.

The new road is named after Edith Rigby in honour of Preston’s most famous suffragette, who dedicated most of her life to fighting for women’s rights, particularly those of working-class women.

Work on the scheme, which includes two smaller roads, began towards the end of 2019 and took place through the Coronavirus pandemic.

These three new roads connect key parts of the city, aim to reduce congestion on the existing road network, help people to get around, and unlock new economic opportunities for Preston and Lancashire as a whole.

The scheme includes two smaller link roads: William Young Way and Avice Pimblett Way, which connect to new and existing housing areas of North West, Preston and Cottam.

These two roads are named after Victoria Cross recipient William Young, and Avice Pimblett OBE, who was the first woman town councillor, first woman alderman and first woman mayor of Preston.

The new roads provide direct access to new housing in the area and will support further developments in the future.

As well as promoting walking and cycling, the new roads will improve access to the motorway and will also support delivery of a proposed railway station at Cottam.

The new roads have been constructed by Costain, on behalf of Lancashire County Council, as part of the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal.

Funding for the new road comes from the Department for Transport and the Lancashire Growth Deal, managed by the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, with further funding coming from Lancashire County Council, National Highways and City Deal.

City Deal aims to create more than 20,000 new private sector jobs and more than 17,000 new homes built across the area, along with new school places and open green spaces to cater for the growing population.

It is an agreement between the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership and Preston City Council, South Ribble Borough Council and Lancashire County Council, along with central government and Homes England.

The scheme also aligns with the core aims of the Lancashire 2050 framework, which is bringing Lancashire’s 15 councils together with a shared vision, shared ambition, shared goals and shared priorities.

Find out more about the new roads at Lancashire – PWD.

Roads Minister, Richard Holden, said: “Hundreds of thousands of Lancashire residents rely on our local road network to get around for work, education, hospital appointments and to see loved ones, whether that’s by car, bus, or cycling and walking.

“That’s why it’s fantastic to see the new Edith Rigby Way finally open thanks to this Government’s £31 million investment, which will help reduce congestion, cut journey times and create new local jobs, as we continue to improve transport connections to grow the economy.”

County Councillor Philippa Williamson, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “This opening marks a significant achievement in our ongoing efforts to improve connectivity and access to public transport infrastructure in Lancashire.

“The new road will help to reduce congestion in certain parts of Preston, reduce travel times, open up access to sites for new homes, and unlock opportunities for economic growth and development.

“Thank you to everyone who has been involved in this project, especially during the pandemic. We look forward to seeing the positive impact it will have on Preston and other parts of Lancashire.”

Mark Rawstron, Chair of the City Deal Executive, said: “The City Deal was a landmark agreement designed to transform Preston and South Ribble through the creation of new jobs and homes. The funding from City Deal has been instrumental in enabling growth through the expansion and improvement of transport infrastructure in the region, at scale.

“The Preston Western Distributor is a great example of this strategy in action. It also demonstrates how programmes like the City Deal can complement other funding streams, such as the LEP’s Growth Deal, to bring forward investments which generate significant benefits for the whole of the county.”

Councillor David Borrow, Preston City Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Regulation, said: “The main new road is named after Edith Rigby in honour of Preston’s most famous suffragette, who dedicated most of her life to fighting for women’s rights, particularly those of working-class women. Improving the life of our residents remains at the heart of everything we do and this project has already benefited local businesses, provide local job opportunities and student placements, and bolstered the local economy.

“Providing better access to new and existing housing developments in North West Preston and Cottam, the new road will improve air quality and the traffic flow in the area for our residents.”

Debbie Francis OBE, Chair of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said: “It’s fantastic that the Preston Western Distributor has been officially opened. The scheme has been designed to not only improve our access to the national motorway network, but also open up new housing sites, new industrial sites, and unlock other new commercial opportunities.

“The £58m of Growth Deal funding which helped ensure its completion is also a clear example of how LEP investment can be used strategically to support transformational projects which benefit the whole of the county.”

Bruce Parker, National Highways’ head of planning and development in the North West, said: “We’re delighted the opening of the road today includes a brand-new junction for the M55. We’ve made a significant investment in this project from money we’ve specially allocated to support new jobs and homes through brilliant local partnerships like this one with the county council and others.

“As well as supporting the local economy, the new M55 junction two helps relieve congestion at other junctions along the motorway and help provide smoother and more reliable journeys for businesses, commuters and other motorway users.”

Jon Irvine, Development Director, Homes England: “It is fantastic to see the Preston Western Distributer opening today.  This significant piece of infrastructure will allow better connections to be made across Lancashire and importantly for housing and economic growth to be stimulated across the sub-region.

“Homes England is proud to have supported the delivery of such an important piece of infrastructure.”

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Ceremonial coins added to £45m+ Animate steelwork

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To mark the progress of Preston’s £45m+ Animate leisure complex, two ceremonial coins were added to the construction project’s steelwork being built by the Eric Wright Group.

A 50 pence Windrush coin, which celebrates 75 years since HMT Empire Windrush docked in England, and a £5 coin to mark the coronation of King Charles III were installed by the Mayor of Preston, Councillor Yakub Patel.

Cllr Yakub Patel said: “As we mark the progress of the Animate, we thought it appropriate also to acknowledge significant events during its construction.

“The coins are a simple way of acknowledging what’s happened in society and how citizens to royalty have contributed to shaping British culture.”

The Animate leisure complex is one of six major projects planned under Preston’s Harris Quarter Towns Fund Investment Programme, for which the City was awarded £20.9m from the Government’s national Towns Fund initiative in March 2021.

Harris Quarter is a unique area of Preston undergoing a £200m investment programme to transform its historic buildings, sites and public realm into a diverse culture, leisure and employment offering. The £45m+ Animate cinema and leisure complex is due to open in Spring 2025.

Picture above, left to right:

  • Mike Costello Quantity Surveyor, Eric Wright Construction
  • Matt Friedmann Project Manager, Eric Wright Construction
  • Cllr Yakub Patel Mayor of Preston
  • Nick Hague Project Director, Maple Grove Developments

Towns Fund – Town Deals

On 27 July 2019, the Prime Minister announced that the Towns Fund would support an initial 101 places across England to develop Town Deal proposals, to drive economic regeneration and deliver long-term economic and productivity growth. See further details of the announcement.

Preston’s City Investment Plan is a 15-year vision for Preston, setting out Preston’s long-term objectives and strategy to transform the City, targeting resources and aligning public and private sector investments to respond to needs and capitalise on opportunities for positive change.

Harris Quarter Towns Fund Investment Programme

Projects included in Preston’s £200 million Harris Quarter Towns Fund Investment Programme are:

  • Animate– £45m multi-use entertainment and leisure complex anchored by a state-of-the-art cinema and bowling venue next to Preston Markets
  • Educate Preston– The creation of a new Careers and Employment, Information, Advice and Guidance Hub in the Harris Quarter
  • Renewal of Harris Quarter Assets– Investment to support the redevelopment of publicly owned buildings in the Harris Quarter to support new cultural and community uses, including Amounderness House
  • Illuminate and Integrate– A project to deliver improved pedestrian and cycleway infrastructure, street lighting and other public realm improvements within the Harris Quarter
  • Preston Youth Zone– The development of Preston Youth Zone as a state-of-the-art facility for young people in Preston aged eight to 19.
  • #HarrisYourPlace– The refurbishment of the Grade I listed Harris Museum, Art Gallery & Library, enhancing and protecting the building for future generations
  • Preston Pop Ups £1m pop-up programme of events bringing together new temporary event space, artworks and improvements to public realm infrastructure, aimed at boosting visitor activity in the Harris Quarter

Community Wealth Building

Preston City Council actively applies and prioritises the principles of Community Wealth Building wherever applicable and appropriate.

Community Wealth Building is an approach which aims to ensure the economic system builds wealth and prosperity for everyone. For more information visit Preston City Council – community wealth building.

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A new approach to social value launched by Preston City Council

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Preston City Council has approved a Social Value Procurement Framework (SVPF) as a central part of its commitment to increasing the ‘social value’ or benefit received by local communities through its procurement activity.

Social Value is the wider benefit gained by a local community from the delivery of public contracts or services.

When suppliers bid for contracts with the council, they will now be asked to demonstrate how they will contribute to supporting the local economy and fair employment, addressing the climate emergency, investing in training, and supporting the voluntary and community sector.

This marks an important step forward in the council’s commitment to delivering Community Wealth Building in Preston.

The Social Value (2012) Act requires social value to be considered in all public sector service procurement exercises over an agreed threshold. Public authorities must have ‘regard to economic, social and environmental well-being’.

The new framework will improve the council’s existing approach to the consideration of social value in procurement.

Delivery of ‘progressive procurement’ is one of the pillars of Community Wealth Building and in Preston it will contribute directly to the development of a resilient and inclusive local economy.

Councillor Valerie Wise, cabinet member for community wealth building said: “A Community Benefit Framework is already in place for the council’s £45m Animate entertainment and leisure development and a similar framework has been adopted for the Town’s Fund projects.

“We have agreed that a framework should now be adopted for all council procurement activity and that the weighting of social value in the assessment of tenders should be increased to 20%. This is in line with the council’s commitment to Community Wealth Building, and best practice across the UK.

“A 20% commitment to social value on big ticket contracts will make a big difference to our communities. As a council, we are always looking for ways to build a more resilient and fairer economy, and this is a significant step forward to achieving Preston’s priorities.”

The SVPF will be used in any procurement exercise which is expected to exceed the contract value threshold of £74,999. Twenty per cent of the overall assessment score will be allocated to social value.

This will be split evenly between an assessment of a supplier’s description of their current commitment to social value; and an assessment of the additional benefits suppliers commit to through the delivery of measures selected from the SVPF.

These measures are grouped under five themes:

  1. Supporting the local economy
  2. Addressing the climate emergency
  3. Promoting fair employment
  4. Investing in the future workforce
  5. Strengthening the voluntary and community sector

On award of contract, the supplier will commit to regular reporting on the selected SVPF measures and this will form part of the council’s standard contract monitoring procedure.

For more information on the Social Value Procurement Framework visit Preston City Council – Social Value in Procurement.

Preston City Council actively applies and prioritises the principles of Community Wealth Building wherever applicable and appropriate.

Community Wealth Building is an approach which aims to ensure the economic system builds wealth and prosperity for everyone.

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First tenant confirmed for Animate cinema and leisure complex

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Hollywood Bowl is coming to Preston as part of the city owned multi-million pound cinema and leisure complex, Animate.

This anchor operator, who specialise in operating large, high quality bowling centres, will open a new entertainment venue, which will feature 16 fully computerised lanes with plush seating, a stylish bar and diner and a cutting-edge amusement area, in the new development which will be located on the site of the former indoor market.

Animate will also include a cinema, new restaurants and bars, a car park, and new public square. Further confirmed occupiers will be announced in the coming months.

This scheme will bring growth and development to the city centre as well as bringing in over £7million of extra economic activity every year while creating 140 full time equivalent jobs.

Councillor Matthew Brown, Leader of Preston City Council, said: “Welcoming Hollywood Bowl on-board the Animate scheme is a really positive step forward in our plans to bring this exciting city owned development to Preston for the whole community to benefit from.

“As well as bringing investment and jobs to the people of Preston, this key anchor operator will help support the regeneration of our city centre. This major family attraction is a first for the city centre and will complement our existing leisure offer.  It will bring people into Preston and further support our strongly established small business community.”

Laurence  Keen,  Chief  Financial  Officer  of  Hollywood  Bowl  Group,  said: “We  are  pleased  to  have secured another prime, high footfall destination to enable us to  continue to  execute on our new centre opening strategy. We’re delighted to be bringing the Hollywood Bowl brand to Preston and to be a part of the exciting development of the Animate leisure complex.”

Andrew Dewhurst, Director of Maple Grove Developments, commented: “We’re delighted to have secured Hollywood Bowl as the first named operator for Animate.  This exciting news contributes massively to Preston’s goal of creating a thriving, sustainable city centre with an outstanding leisure and entertainment offer.

“We recently submitted a new planning application for the Animate scheme with Preston City Council and expect to be able to announce further lettings over the winter months.”

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